The follow-up of pediatric patients ensures regular ocular morbidity monitoring and better treatment outcome. Hiralal Santudevi Pradhan Institute of Ophthalmic Science (Bharatpur Eye Hospital [BEH]) noticed that the follow-up rate was only 22% among its pediatric patients. Several factors like lack of awareness and forgetfulness among patients may contribute to a lower number of follow-up visits. Therefore, BEH decided to find if counseling and reminders through SMS text messaging and phone calls would improve the follow-up rates.
This study aims to evaluate the impact of interventions like counseling and reminder SMS text messaging and phone calls in improving the follow-up rate of pediatric patients.
This is a public health intervention study being conducted using quantitative analysis. All children (0-16 years) with ocular conditions requiring at least 3 follow-up visits in the study period will be included. In all, 264 participants will be allocated to 3 groups: routine standard care, counseling, and reminders with SMS text messaging and phone calls. In counseling, patients will take part in 20-minute counseling sessions with trained counselors at each visit, and information leaflets will be provided to them. In the reminder SMS text messaging and phone call group, patients will receive an SMS text message 3 days prior and a phone call 1 day prior to their scheduled visits. Patients attending within 2 days of the scheduled date will be considered compliant to follow-up. The proportion of patients completing all the follow-up visits in each group will be assessed. Informed consent will be taken from parents and children. Univariate and multivariate analyses will be conducted.
The ethical approval for this study has been obtained from the Ethical Review Board (ERB) of Nepal Health Research Council (ERB protocol registration #761/2020 P). The data collection was initiated on January, 24, 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as of September 2021, we have only been able to enroll 154 of the planned 264 participants (58.3% of the sample size).
This study will reliably document not only the factors associated with follow-up rate through an intervention package (counseling and reminders through SMS text messaging and phone calls) but also the cost effectiveness of the intervention package, which can be applied in all the departments of the hospital.