You already know that no-show appointments are costly to your practice. They can leave gaps in your schedule that are impossible to fill, and represent lost revenue to the tune of $150 billion or more every year for healthcare practices in the U.S. One of the most effective ways to combat missed appointments is with appointment reminder service. However, the traditional way of reminding patients over the phone is also problematic because it’s time-consuming for your staff. Instead, a combination of text messages, email, and phone reminders can help patients remember to come in without adding more work for your staff.
Time Reminders Effectively
There is an important balance between reminding your patients so they won’t forget about an upcoming appointment and annoying them so they don’t want to come to your clinic anymore, or they simply stop paying attention to future reminders. The exact number of reminders may depend on a few factors:
- How long it is between appointments
- Whether your patient has opted in for text messages
- Whether you have a valid email address on file
- What the patient’s personal preferences are for reminders
Ask them to opt in to text and email reminders, which makes it easier for you to send multiple communications that won’t seem annoying or overbearing.
A general schedule (that you can tweak based on individual factors) might include:
- An email reminder two weeks before the appointment with any important instructions on information they need in advance, such as insurance verification or lab tests
- A second email reminder one week before the appointment that reiterates important information about what to do or bring the day of the appointment (using an automated system that can adjust based on their last response is best, so you don’t repeat instructions for something they have already done)
- A text message the day before the appointment
You may also give patients the option to get a final text reminder closer to their appointment, like the morning of or an hour before, if they think they might forget.
Personalize the Message
One of the most important things in any reminder system is a level of personalization. As mentioned above, it’s important to have an appointment reminder software that pulls relevant and current information from the patient’s chart to give accurate instructions. For example, it’s important to have a reminder system that can pull the specific date and time for the appointment and include that, along with instructions like how to get to the clinic or where to park when they arrive. If the message is generic, it’s less helpful to your patient.
Trying to do all this manually will be stressful for your staff, so it’s best to get an automated patient reminder system that can schedule texts and emails on a specific schedule as soon as the appointment is created. Integration with your practice management software and scheduling system, as well as your EHR, are critical for an effective automated system.
To learn more about how you can implement effective patient reminders in your practice, schedule a demo with AdvancedMD, and see our full suite of software solutions for your practice.