Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 29, 2020

The Best Practices for Patient Appointment Reminders

Nowadays, it's imperative for health systems to utilize patient appointment reminders. A missed appointment can cause issues for both patients and the healthcare facilities. With that said, it's essential to follow the right practices when sending out reminders. These are some of the best practices for appointment reminders.

Rely on Automated Reminders

It's possible to call patients to send them reminders or send out messages manually. However, if you rely on these methods alone, you'll likely forget to remind patients of their upcoming appointment, which can lead to issues like missed appointments.

That's why you'll want to have an automated system in place for patient reminders. It is a great way to ensure that patients are always reminded of their upcoming appointment. You can still have staff call patients to remind them of appointments when they have the time, but you can make sure patients are never overlooked.

Keep Your Goals in Mind

Your goals should be at the forefront of your mind when you're deciding on a system for patient reminders. It's likely that your plans include things like:

  • Reduce no-shows
  • Encourage patients to cancel when they can't make an appointment
  • Make sure reminders are seen
  • Open up space in your schedule
  • Reduce the workload of your front office staff

If you consider these goals when you're deciding on a system for patient reminders, you'll be able to avoid a lot of issues. Systems like appointment reminder software will help you to meet all of these goals.

Take Advantage of Text Messaging

If you want an effective way to reach payments, you will want to utilize text messages. Many patients ignore phone calls, particularly patients in a younger demographic. In contrast, text messages are more likely to be seen.

Naturally, you'll need to get the permission of your patients before you start sending them text messages. However, this is something that most of your patients will gladly agree to. Once you start using text message reminders, you'll see missed appointments decline.

Consider Sending Out Different Types of Reminders

There's an old saying about how you shouldn't put all of your eggs in a single basket. It is something that you'll want to keep in mind when you're sending patient reminders. If you only send out one type of reminder, there's a chance it won't be seen. For example, an email reminder could wind up being sent to a spam folder.

Your best bet is to send out multiple reminders through different methods. For example, you could make an automated phone call and send text messages. Even if a patient doesn't see one of your reminders, it's likely that they'll notice the other one.

Keep Cost in Mind

Cost should be at the forefront of your mind when you're deciding on an appointment reminder system. You'll want to avoid systems that require you to pay for each text message you send out. This can create a number of issues for you.

You should work to stay within your healthcare facility's budget, but you should also keep in mind that you get what you pay for. A reliable appointment reminder system could wind up saving you quite a bit of money. This is something that's worth paying for.

Don't Overdo It

Sending patients multiple messages can be helpful. With that said, you'll want to make sure you aren't sending out too many messages. If a patient is continuously being bombarded with messages on the days leading up to their appointment, they could wind up feeling stressed. They might even wind up taking their business elsewhere.

Generally speaking, you should send a patient no more than three reminders about their appointment. Try to space these reminders out and send them via different methods so that your patients will never be overwhelmed. Keep user experience at the forefront of your mind.

Clarity Is Crucial

Your messages should be brief, precise, and to the point. When a patient reads or hears a message, there shouldn't be any confusion about what they are saying. They should understand that it is an appointment reminder, be aware of when their appointment is, and know what they should do to cancel.

It would be best if you didn't try to mix other information in with appointment reminders. These reminders should be about the appointment and nothing else. If a patient doesn't understand what you're saying, the appointment reminder will be a waste.

Ask for Feedback

You may want to request that patients give you feedback about the appointment reminder system you have in place. Sending out a brief survey can help you to identify issues with your system and make corrections as needed. Reach out to people and see what they think of the system that you're using.

You might feel that you're sending out the right number of messages. However, your patients might feel overwhelmed. A survey can also help you to find out if patients are receiving your messages. Politely ask for feedback so that you can see what your patients have to say.

Request a Response

You may want to ask that patients respond to you when they receive an appointment reminder. For example, if you send a text reminder, you could ask that patients reply with "yes" if they still intend to come to the appointment. This is a great way to ensure that patients are seeing the reminders you're sending out.

Not all of your patients will respond, and you should never make a response a requirement. With that said, you'll find that asking for quick response can help you and your practice in quite a few ways.

An appointment reminder system can save you a lot of headaches. Still, it would help if you ensure that the system you're using is both effective and reliable. Keep this advice in mind so that you can settle on a system that works for both you and your patients.

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