👩‍⚕️ A NJ hospital has an effective way to get more women to schedule breast exams

👩‍⚕️ Text messaging impacted patient compliance with screening

👩‍⚕️ The text reminders included a link to allow for self-scheduling

A study conducted by Englewood Health found two-way text messaging is a powerful tool to get patients to schedule their overdue mammograms.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people put their medical care on the back burner. That included mammograms, and other important health screening exams which led to health consequences, said Helene Wolk, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Englewood Health.

The idea behind the text messaging study was to help people take better care of themselves. What they found was that text messaging was a better way of communicating with patients.

mailbox (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

Historically, patients would receive a letter in the mail, an email, or a phone call reminding them that they missed their mammograms and that it’s important to go in and get it done. That was it, Wolk said.

Texting is very personalized, meaning the hospital reached out to patients only when they knew these people missed that annual mammography.


“It was actionable which is really important. So, when you got that text, you click a link in the text and schedule yourself immediately. It was meant to help the individual take care of themselves by giving them a personalized outreach communication to take care of themselves and a way to help them do that by scheduling in one click,” Wolk said.

Englewood Health implemented its “Overdue Screening Mammogram Campaign in 2023,” in which 7,000 women received a text message reminding them they were overdue for their annual mammogram, Wolk said. Out of those 7,000 women who received a text, close to 20 percent of them scheduled a breast imaging appointment, which she said was a huge number.

Nurse Assisting Patient Undergoing Mammogram

Out of that sample, breast cancer was detected in 0.5 percent of patients.

Englewood Health has expanded the text reminder campaign by continuing to find those who are overdue, finding those who are eligible but haven’t yet gotten screened, and extending beyond mammograms to include other critical health screenings such as lung cancer and colonoscopies, Wolk said.

“We’re enabling a new way to communicate with patients to allow them to very easily access care and take care of themselves,” Wolk said.

In this digital age, people are very much tied to their cell phones and many view text messaging as a more urgent form of communication, she said.

Breast cancer awareness.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Because of that, the text ultimately gets more attention than a crowded email or snail mail, Wolk said.

“I think it raises that level of urgency particularly when it focuses on your health. That would capture your attention and I think this study proves that,” she added.

The idea of having a one-click solution is vital. Wolk said Englewood Health could’ve just reminded women in a text that they’re overdue for their annual mammogram and that they should call to schedule an appointment.

But, instead, they gave patients an electronic way to immediately click on the link and self-schedule without any other action on their part.

Englewood Health’s findings were included in the American College of Surgeons’ ACS Cancer Conference 2024.

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