A patient failing to attend to their booked appointment is not only frustrating, but costs your practice time and money in lost revenue. But with effective patient reminders, no-shows can become a thing of the past.
Sometimes patients fail to attend due to reasons beyond their control – such as being caught in traffic, having to work late or family emergencies.
However, the majority of missed appointments can readily be prevented with a functional patient reminder system.
In this piece, we provide guidance on:
- How to avoid the avoidable no-shows
- What you can do to recover when the rare unavoidable no-shows occur
- How to use Appointment Reminders to improve experience and loyalty
- How Appointment Reminders can save your practice time and money
Impact on practice profitability
If the frustration and chaos that come with missed appointments isn’t motivation alone, consider this formula:
- # of practitioners per clinic
- Multiplied by average # of missed appointments per practitioner per week
- Multiplied by average price of appointment
= The amount of money your practice is losing every week
Not to mention Practice Manager frustration, and wasted practitioner time and resources!
When choosing a patient reminders system, it’s important to consider both the patient experience, and the practice management benefits.
Ensure the patient experience drives engagement
The way in which you communicate with patients will dictate whether their appointments with you are simply transactional and fleeting, or whether they develop a sense of loyalty and connection to your practice.
Use channels patients actually like
When was the last time you took an old appointment card out of your wallet and were subsequently prompted to attend an appointment that you had made several months ago?
We’re willing to bet that doesn’t happen often; yet, most practices are still in the habit of using patient reminder cards.
However, our reliance on our mobile phones presents another opportunity. The Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey 2017 reports 35% of Australians check their phone within 5 minutes of waking up in the morning. Plus, service based apps have become an integral part of modern lifestyles; the HealthEngine App was used by over 300k Australians last month alone.
Communicating with patients through the channels they readily use (such as SMS or through the HealthEngine App) is effective for 3 main reasons:
- It’s simple, in the moment, and convenient for patients to reply
- Message delivers directly to patients when they’re on-the-go
- Facilitates an immediate response – be that to confirm, cancel, or reschedule
Send customisable patients reminders
Everyone likes to feel special. No patient wants to be spammed by your practice.
Even with great staff, a comfortable waiting room and a positive in-practice experience, a poorly written patient reminder can make your patient feel like a number on a list.
Ensure your patient reminders feel personalised so that your patients feel welcome and important.
Send patient reminders at the right time
Patients often schedule appointments (particularly follow up appointments) weeks or months in advance. Yet we all know how easy it can be to get caught up in today’s ‘always connected’ world of work, family or social plans – and simply forget. Use that connectivity to your advantage – a well-timed reminder message popping up on their screen will grab their attention away from the work emails or food ordering tasks they may be preoccupied with.
Having an automated reminders system that allows staff to send reminders at the perfect time will allow patients to make time for their important appointments. HealthEngine Appointment Reminders allow you to select what time the reminders are sent, to align with both the optimal times for patient attention, and when your front desk staff typically have capacity to deal with any calls it may prompt.
Offer an instant rescheduling option
Despite their best efforts, patients may not be able to attend their appointment as originally scheduled.
The inconvenience of having to call and reschedule appointments often discourages patients from doing so at all. This leaves them without necessary healthcare – and your practice in the lurch.
By offering instant re-booking via text or through the HealthEngine app, patients are much more likely to reschedule inconvenient appointments in the moment of seeing the message.
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Benefits for Practice Managers
In order to deliver exceptional patient experience, patient reminders need to be well-managed on your practice’s end too. The following are important considerations about Appointment Reminders that directly affect practice front desk staff.
Unlimited reminders delivered via SMS or HealthEngine app
Despite the benefits of sending SMS or in-app reminders in reducing no-shows, the costly and confusing nature of messy SMS credit bundles from some providers can make the exercise counter intuitive.
Rather than shop around for bundles that are cost-prohibitive, choose a Reminders product that includes unlimited SMS.
Here at HealthEngine, we want to help you to grow your practice, rather than capitalise on the engagement you’re getting from your patients. That’s why you can send unlimited appointment reminders to all of your patients, for one fixed flat monthly fee based on number of full-time practitioners. No messy bundles, no confusing credits, no per-SMS charges on your bill.
Visible patient responses using your Reminders Dashboard
As convenient as it is for patients to respond instantly to your timely Appointment Reminders, you’ll need one central repository of responses.
Having all of their responses visualised in a dashboard designed for Practice Managers and Front Desk Staff is as easy as it gets!
Ensure your Patient Reminders sync seamlessly with your Practice Management System so that responses are instantly reflected in your appointment book.
Instant republishing of cancelled appointments
Patient Reminders can only do so much. If a patient needs to cancel or move their appointment, that still leaves your practice with an empty slot to fill.
That’s where instant republishing of cancelled appointments comes in.
As soon as front desk are aware that a patient cannot make an appointment, their ability to instantly republish that appointment dramatically increases their ability to fill the slot. And if your practice uses HealthEngine Patient Match, that appointment will automatically republish on your online profile. HealthEngine is Australia’s leading online health directory where over 1.5 million Australians go each month to book their health appointments.
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No-shows are an unfortunate fact of practice life – but a robust Appointment Reminder system can put an end to Did Not Attends.
By sending customised, timely reminders to patients through effective channels, you make it infinitely easier for patients to turn up to their scheduled appointments. Not to mention the positive association they will have with your practice for being modern, tech savvy and making their lives easier!
To find out what HealthEngine Appointment Reminders could do to help your practice, get in touch for an obligation free discussion with one of our Customer Success consultants via the form below!