Running a healthcare service comes with a lot of responsibility. Apart from patient care, healthcare practices have to manage the administrative aspects as well. These include managing the staff, managing payment options, insurance, and the most important – managing appointments. An appointment reminder service for doctors is one of the most important assets you can have!
Managing appointments and schedules become difficult when it comes to no-shows. Missing appointments may or may not be on purpose. Regardless, it affects times, money, and takes up the slot from someone who would have shown up.
Let us talk about appointments and missed appointments in detail in this guide.
Before we get into managing appointments, we need to know why they are missed in the first place. It is fair to think that if someone agreed to a time, or proposed it themselves, why would they not show up?
A study in 2017 showed that up to 52% of patients simply forgot about their appointment. Hence, it is notable that service to remind them makes the most sense.
However, this is not it! 28.6% of people noted the incorrect date and time which caused them to miss their appointment. Only 23.8% of people had to skip it because of an impromptu situation like traffic, work, or other situations.
According to this study, a big chunk of no-shows is easy to manage with an appointment reminder service for doctors. Hence, the solution is easy to incorporate and avoid these missed appointments.
A no-show may affect the patient more than anyone else. However, it seems to affect the practitioners as well. The biggest problem that arises is the time that goes to waste because of an empty slot. Since time is money, the empty slot can cause a toll on the revenue as well.
A missed appointment means that a patient who needed the slot, will also not be able to reach out. The chain reaction may cause problems to more than just one person.
Preventing missed appointments can be easy with an appointment reminder service for doctors. Healthcare workers have been trying to find the most convenient ways. While some of them worked, some did not! Here are the most common practices.
Postcards: Snail mail is one of the oldest tricks in the book. However, it is called snail mail for a reason. You cannot rely on the delivery time. Moreover, it is not an affordable option.
Phone calls: Phone calls seemed to work slightly better. However, there is no right time to make a phone call in today’s world. Phone calls can be annoying to most of your patients. While they help, there is no guarantee you will get through in the first place. Also, imagine calling every patient in a day. It becomes very time-consuming.
Emails: Back when emails were new, it was probably a good idea to send reminders. People checked them often and the market was unsaturated. However, today emails have more spam than important mails. Reminder alerts usually get through, but there is no guarantee that your patient is going to even find it.
Text Messages: Mass texting is the most modern way to send reminders. It seems to work because almost everyone uses a phone. You do not even need a smartphone to receive or send texts. Let us talk more about it in detail below.
Almost everyone keeps their phone at least five feet away from them at all times. Hence, accessibility is out of the question because it is almost a guarantee. Here are the following reasons why using texts for reminders works best.
Now that we know text messages are the best way, we need to know how you can craft the perfect message. Follow these guidelines to write the perfect appointment text.
You must keep your message short and crisp. The purpose of the message is to remind the patient about an upcoming appointment. Do not deviate from this goal.
If you use ExpertTexting, then you can enjoy the feature of personalizing your mass texts. You will have to add custom timings to each message. Similarly, add their name too so they know it is for them and not a mistake. Here is a video on how you can personalize your messages with ExpertTexting.
ExpertTexting also gives you the option to use two-way texting. This feature allows your patients to reply to the message you send out. Make sure to give them the option of confirming the appointment or rescheduling it. In case the patient wants to reschedule, you can use mass texting to send out a blast to interested people. Hence, you can fill your empty slot.
Once you get a positive response and confirmation, you can take it a step ahead. Remind patients to bring any necessary documents that they require during their appointment. With an added service, you may save a lot of other inconveniences that may come with forgetting these documents.
While texting is the best way to send reminders, there are some limitations to it as well. Sending texts during odd hours like late at night may be a cause of annoyance. For the best result and reach, send messages during business hours. These are usually from 9 am to 5 pm.
Another limitation that comes with texting is that you HAVE to only send messages to people who express prior consent. You can attain this consent by adding a widget on your website, mentioning your keyword, or simply putting up your QR code. You can also put it on the form that patients fill out to make an appointment. Make sure you tell them the reason you want their number.
One of the biggest concerns that healthcare workers have is being compliant with the HIPAA act. The HIPAA act mentions that you cannot send PHI – personal health information, over text messages. However, you can use it to send appointment reminders. As long as you do not add any sensitive information, you are good to go. We have a comprehensive guide on HIPAA compliance of text messages. Click on the image below to read it.
ExpertTexting is a mass texting service that allows you to personalize your message and send reminders to your list. You can make groups and manage your database as you find convenient. The best part is that ExpertTexting charges you only for the messages you send out. You do not have to buy wasteful plans.