Appointment Reminders are Worth the Effort
Postit Patient Reminders
Patient nonattendance or “no-shows” represents a serious problem for many healthcare providers. One study revealed that over a third of surveyed practices had a no-show rate of over 21%, and we have encountered practices losing as much as $400 per day per provider from missed appointments!
Not only do patient no-shows reduce practice revenue and efficiency, but the administration is inconvenienced and clinicians’ time, which could have been used to serve other patients, is wasted. What can appear to be a minor inconvenience can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in missed revenue.
An effective way to reduce the patient no-show rate and alleviate the negative impact, is to adopt an appointment reminder system, i.e., remind patients a few days prior to their appointments via phone call, email, SMS (short message service) or letter.
Here are tips to help you implement an effective appointment reminder system.
Look into your practice management software. Does your practice management software already offer a reminder tool that you are not utilizing? Many systems have a built-in solution for appointment reminders, or they offer an add-on feature for patient reminders. It may be easiest to use a system that is already in place if that option is available.
Consider the demographics of your patient base. If you are choosing one method of reminders over another, for example text messaging over telephone reminder, be sure to first consider your patient base. If the majority of your patients are young, busy, maybe even new parents, a text message service may be better than phone reminders. Conversely, elderly patients may prefer a phone call to an email or text message. Some systems offer multiple ways to remind patients and you can customize reminders based on each patient’s preference.
Ask your patients the method they prefer. Giving patients the option to tell you how they prefer to be contacted will increase the effectiveness of your reminder system. Place a simple reply card in your waiting area or next to your check-in sheet that gives patients a list of the options you have available to them to receive reminders.
Set the expectations with staff. Be sure to convey the importance of patient reminders to your staff. Each team member needs to know that reminders will help keep the practice running smoothly by reducing the volume of calls to re-schedule appointments, allowing staff to maintain focus on patient care.
While you may think you are too busy to implement a reminder system, keep in mind that every week that you don’t take action, your practice misses revenue opportunities that it will never see again. A short-term effort to implement a reminder system can prove to be well worth the return when you consider the revenue you will capture over the course of a year! What is that old saying? “A stitch in time saves nine.”
If you have questions about this topic or any other issues around the business of medicine, contact us via email or call us at 800-635-4040.