Text Messaging for HIV Appointment and Medication Reminders – Part II


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This week, we return to our series on using text messaging for HIV appointment and medication reminders. We are dedicating four posts to this topic, which often comes up in conversations between Miguel Gomez,’s Director, and AIDS service providers. We recently discussed some of the reasons why an AIDS service organization might want to use text messaging. This week we’re focusing on the how. In weeks to come we’ll be addressing costs and privacy.

How can my organization use text messages for appointment and/or medication reminders?

The field of texting is still new, but here are a few examples:

  • Software for providers (or your clients) to schedule and send text messages. There are a number of options for software that allows you to schedule and track appointment and medication reminders. These include secure Web accounts accessed from your computer or software that can be integrated into an existing client management system. Sometimes the easiest way to get a sense of how texting would work in your setting is to call a few vendors and let them walk you through the options. Some of the many vendors are listed below (more details to come in our upcoming post on cost):

    Note: Some systems offer two-way messaging so your clients can confirm or reschedule an appointment or medication reminder. Dr. Nadia Dowshen and Dr. Robert Garofalo of Children’s Memorial Hospital Exit Disclaimer in Chicago are planning to use two-way messaging for a pilot HIV medication-adherence study with adolescents who have previously failed treatment, or are newly diagnosed. They told us that clients receive a daily message, and are then prompted to press “1” if they have taken their medication already, “2” if they want to be reminded again in an hour, etc. This automated system allows the clinic to give their clients personal adherence reports each month.

  • Free or inexpensive online resources. You or your client can sign up for a program (often sponsored by a pharmaceutical company) to receive text reminders or e-mails for medication times, appointments, and refills. Some programs are geared towards providers and others towards clients. Some examples include:
  • Send a text message via e-mail or a cell phone. If you know your patients’ cell phone numbers and carriers, and have their consent, you can e-mail them text messages. The e-mail address includes their phone number and carrier (i.e., You can also text them directly from a cell phone. Learn how to send a text message Exit Disclaimer from a mobile phone if you’ve never done so, and check out this list of text messaging abbreviations Exit Disclaimer. If you are planning to offer text reminders to all your clients, this is probably not the most efficient or secure system, but as Nadia told us, “The case managers are texting informally already, from their own cell phones — because sometimes they know it’s a better way to communicate with hard-to-reach youth.”

What’s Up Next?

Next, we’ll focus on the costs of text messaging appointment and medication reminders. We’re looking for examples — so if you know of any clinics or providers that are texting their appointment or medication reminders, please let us know!



  1. This is a real complicated issue. Many people shy off when asked to get chkd for AIDS. And if they do they dread and sweat when teh report is to be recived. I once took a total check up and was like stunned to see that they had chkd for AIDS too. Nice thing that the doctors do chk for AIDS in total check up. But sometime people may feel too shy to take the test and this form of text messaging will surely help them out of te problem.

  2. Excellent information. Maybe more people will start to use automated messages for medication and appointment reminders. The cell phone is such a convenient device, why not put it to work for better health outcomes. Anyone can try the 30-day free trial plan at OnTimeRx. Secure online account gives password protected access (24/7) to manage alerts and store all personal health information online. Printouts are also available. Health care professionals can use this system for patients exactly as described in the article above.

  3. I am working in an international hospital in shanghai and really interested if this kind of system can be lanunched in our hospital for patient. Please keep me in loop if any update news be launched. Many thanks.

  4. I am an addiction counselor and deal with many drug and alcohol addicted patients who also have aids. From my experience the text messaging system would of course need to be secure and HIPPA laws followed but this would provide possibly life saving reminders where other methods of communication might fail. however I do think the person would be given a barrage of options including email, text, automated phone reminder etc. This is important information to communicate and especially those addicted need the variety of possible methods of receiving the notification in case they are distracted or lost their phone etc.

  5. HIV is not an ordinary sickness. Text Messaging system is cool idea but like what Addiction Rehab said it should always be secure. Most people with HIV our shy so we need to make sure they are protected.

  6. Amy Yoffie says:

    Please add Compliance for Life to your list of services that enable text reminders. We offer two-way messaging and make multiple attempts to find the patient when they do not respond. Patients can give permission to a back-up person (parent, friend, provider) who is automatically notified if the patient did not take the medication. Reminders also are sent by phone and email.

  7. CSI has a iPhone tool and will soon have a Android app for Text Medication reminders

  8. Please add Compliance for Life(tm) to your list of Software for providers (or your clients) to schedule and send text messages.
    Thank you,
    Jean Steckler

  9. is a new medication reminder service. Text message sent to your cell phone, any provider.

  10. is a great medication reminder service that can help improve medication adherence. Sign up for text-message, e-mail or phone call reminders conveniently and easily.