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Archive January 2019 XX, No. 1

Business Advisor

Sending Pre-op Text Alerts and Reminders

Jennifer Dickman

Jennifer Dickman, DNP, RN, CPN


Natalie McLane

Natalie McLane, RN, MSN, CPN


TEXT TONES Examples of a few of the many text alerts and reminders you can send to patients.

Prescription filled? Text. Package delivered? Text. School closing early? Text. Hair appointment reminder? Text. Yes, nowadays we receive a text instead of a phone call for just about everything. But what about a critical event like surgery? Why not extend that same convenience to patients?

We don’t text our patients — most of them are too young to read. Here at our pediatric hospital and surgery center, we offer our patients’ parents a text message alert system to help them navigate a scary time: their child’s surgery, often their little one’s first visit to the OR. In addition to texting them reminders about arrival times and NPO status, we also text parents links to information and videos on our website about parental presence at induction of anesthesia and preparing for outpatient surgery, topics that could be unsettling unknowns to them.

Just as text messaging has become the go-to form of communication for most of us, it’s really enhanced our pre-op communications. We’ve been sending automated pre-op texts for about a year now. It hasn’t replaced the nurse’s phone call — at least not yet — but we can’t imagine life without our customized texting service.

Type instead of talk

We all know the challenges of reaching patients by phone in the days before surgery. Reaching the young parents of pediatric patients to communicate critical info might be even more difficult. Mom and Dad are seemingly always on the go: working, driving, or at the supermarket or Little League game when a nurse tries to reach them by phone late in the afternoon — either unable to pick up the phone or to write down the instructions. And sometimes we can’t even leave a message because their voice mailboxes are full.

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