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We’ve all come across those patients who never show, even though we have sent them an appointment reminder of their booking. Perhaps we have even been that patient when on the other side of the reception desk!

There’s Sarah, the mum of 3 who, whilst busy packing schoolbags and lunches, misreads her appointment time as 3:30pm instead of 13:30pm. Then there’s Marie who gets caught up at work and forgets to cancel. Or Harvey, who never writes anything down and has to be reminded of everything twice.

Patients miss appointments all of the time. Sometimes it’s unavoidable – but sometimes it’s completely preventable.

Practices across Australia have told us versions of these stories and they came back with a simple solution! The ability to send a second reminder to patients. We listened, we built it – and now you can use it.

In this post, we will not only update you on this fantastic new feature of HealthEngine Appointment Reminders; we will also provide guidance as to what your patients and practice management team expect from a reminders system.

Reduce no-shows with more than one appointment reminder 

You can now schedule a second reminder to be sent out to all of your patients to give them plenty of notice and further reduce any Did Not Attends.

There is no additional charge for this update. It all comes under the same flat fee/unlimited SMS plan so many of our practices enjoy.

Having the option to send a second reminder is a simple feature that fixes a big issue for some practices, and can help to reduce your no-shows. It’s convenient for practice staff and patients alike – no more disappearing acts from the likes of Sarah, Marie and Harvey!

“I’m not sure no-shows are a big issue for my practice”

Perhaps they aren’t. If not, that’s great! But before making an assumption, we would urge you to 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

Aside from lost revenue, missed appointments can upset patients and frustrate your front desk staff and practice manager.

Let’s take a look at what both patients and practice staff want from a reminder system:

What Patients want from an Appointment Reminder:

“Send my reminder over a channel I actually use and like” – Patients

It’s pretty unlikely that patients will take an old appointment card out of their wallet in time for an appointment and subsequently attend – yet many 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:

  1. It’s simple, in the moment, and convenient for patients to reply 
  2. Message delivers directly to patients when they’re on-the-go
  3. Facilitates an immediate response – be that to confirm, cancel, or reschedule

“Don’t spam me” – Patients

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.

Patient Reminders

“Remind me at the right time” – Patients

Patients often schedule appointments (particularly follow up appointments) weeks or months in advance. Life is busy and it can be easy to simply forget.

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. 

It also allows you to send that often-needed second reminder at the right time too. For example, a 2 hour reminder gives patients enough prompt time to travel to your practice, or to get in touch if something has come up.

“Let me easily reschedule my booking if needs be” – Patients

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.

UNLIMITED APPOINTMENT REMINDERS

MAKE MISSED APPOINTMENTS A THING OF THE PAST

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What Practice Staff Want from a Reminder System:

“Unlimited SMS reminders minus the messy credit bundles please!” – Practice Staff

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 we offer no messy bundles, no confusing credits, no per-SMS charges on your bill.

You can send unlimited appointment reminders to all of your patients, for one fixed flat monthly fee based on number of full-time practitioners.

“Let me easily see patient responses all in one place” – Practice Staff

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. This means you can stay in control of keeping your practitioner calendars up-to-date for the day.

“I need to instantly and easily republish cancelled appointments” – Practice Staff

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.

In Summary

No-shows are an unfortunate fact of practice life – but a robust Appointment Reminder system can put an end to Did Not Attends.

Based on patient and practice feedback, here is a checklist of what your Appointment Reminders system should do:

  • Have the capacity to send 2 reminders ahead of a booking (eg. day before, the day of)
  • Use channels patients like/use (eg.SMS or In-App)
  • Send customisable reminders
  • Remind patients at the right time
  • Offer instant rescheduling
  • No per-SMS charges on your bill
  • Keep patient responses in one easy location for practice staff
  • Instant republishing of cancelled/rescheduled appointments

To learn more about how HealthEngine appointment Reminders could benefit your practice, request a free Practice Success Plan.

 

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