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Barnes-Jewish Hospital tracks appointments via SMS

Barnes-Jewish Hospital has rolled out an SMS program that helps patients manage their appointments.

The hospital is rolling out the mobile service after directly learning that its consumers preferred to be contacted via mobile. The technology is being powered by 3Cinteractive and is being used in Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s OB/GYN department with plans to expand into other departments in the coming months.

“Email and phone lines are becoming less effective as the way to communicate with patients,” said Vinnie Fiordelisi, marketing specialist at 3Cinteractive, Boca Raton, FL.

“Barnes-Jewish was looking for a more cost-effective way to reach its patients,” he said.

Quick cancellations
Barnes-Jewish Hospital is connected with Washington University Medical Center.

Using the technology, hospital patients can opt-in to manage their appointments.

The goal of the service is to minimize missed and cancelled appointments, which can be expensive for hospitals.

Once a patient visits the OB/GYN, they can opt-in for appointment reminders.

Consumers are then sent a text when their appointment is scheduled and have the option to cancel or change it.

“The more people that don’t show up to their appointments costs the hospital both revenue and staff efficiency,” Mr. Fiordelisi said.

Per 3Cinteractive, hospitals in the United States can see up to 35 percent of appointments that are missed or cancelled, costing up to $1.2 million annually.

Virtual health
Barnes-Jewish Hospital is the latest hospital to take its services mobile.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida recently rolled out iPhone and Android applications with tools to keep consumers healthy (see story).

Mobile makes a natural platform for hospital visits because it saves consumers the hassle of coordinating appointments while they are on the go.

By using SMS, Barnes-Jewish Hospital is able to help consumers book appointments and collect information for the company’s database.

Additionally, mobile healthcare could lead to consumers visiting hospitals less by accessing all need-to-know medical information directly on their handsets.

Mobile prescriptions are also an area to watch.

Walgreens recently reported that 25 percent of prescriptions are filled via the company’s mobile app (see story).

“Mobile makes an existing product more efficient and effective,” Mr. Fiordelisi said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York