It’s common for people to commit mistakes as most individuals are forgetful. This statement is especially suitable in relation to medical appointments. Even though doctor’s appointments are vital to one’s well-being, missing a schedule isn’t highly unusual.
Then again, when patient no-shows are high, sadly, it results in the patient losing the chance to improve their medical condition and loss of revenue for the practice. While some medical offices adopt no-show rules and late cancellation fees, missing doctor’s appointments is still a reason for the office to lose income.
That is why many medical practices today adopt a patient appointment reminder system to address patient late cancellations and no-shows. You may think taking this step is easy. However, before swiping that card, read first the following tips in selecting the right patient appointment reminder system for you.
What is a Patient Appointment Reminder System?
Before discussing the tips to help you select the right software, you must understand what a patient appointment reminder system is. Basically, it’s software that notifies patients through text messages and emails about their doctor’s appointments.
What are the Objectives of This System?
The objectives of adopting a patient appointment reminder system are the following:
- Confirm Patient Appointments: The main goal of setting up appointment reminders is to confirm whether patients will show up for their doctor’s visit. When medical offices remind clients of their doctor’s appointment, they shoulder the responsibility of patients turning up that day.
- Lessen Patient No-shows: In connection with ensuring clients stick to their appointments, the system also lessens patient no-shows. While an automated system can cut down no-shows, this feature is possible with actionable appointment reminders.
- Fill Vacant Slots: Of course, when reminding clients of their doctor’s schedule, one of the goals also is to see to it that patients cancel their appointments in advance if they can’t attend on that specific day. In doing this, another patient can fill the vacant slot, and the clinic will not lose any revenue.
- Minimise Employee Call Volume: Before the era of automated appointment reminders, medical offices’ staff notify patients of their schedules through phone calls. Yes, the method can be efficient. However, the strategy isn’t cost-effective. Most front office personnel can do other essential tasks that the software can’t perform.
Tips to Help You Select a Patient Appointment Reminder System
Now that you understand the purpose of the software, here are a few tips for selecting patient appointment reminder system:
- Compatible with Other Applications
It’s typical for medical offices to adopt numerous software to help them operate their businesses smoothly. However, there are times when some applications will not be compatible with each other, resulting in system interruption and further expenditure for the clinic.
Thus, before selecting the right system for you, see to it that the software is compatible with other applications you’re running, like the daily patient schedule. Verify if the software you’re eyeing can interpret patient schedules, or else you’ll do this step manually and add to your task.
- Generates Custom Reports
Meanwhile, to allow you to assess and understand your medical practice operation, it’s best to look for software that provides tailored reports and data analytics. When the system enables you to generate reports, you’ll be able to evaluate the following:
- Monitor your employee productivity using the system
- Track patient no-show pattern
- Identify the number of patients replying to cancel, confirm, or reschedule their doctor’s appointments
- Confirm the number of clients who settled their bills after receiving a payment reminder
- Pinpoint the ideal time to send clients appointment reminders
- Avoid Systems Requiring Extra Hardware
Suppose you come across software that entails users installing additional phone lines or hardware. Then make sure you avoid purchasing these types of systems. Realise that the extra costs increase your financial burden.
You can explore an online-based reminder system that doesn’t include phone lines or extra hardware. When opting for this type of software, you to stick to your budget and prevent potential headaches.
- Adopts Healthcare Security
While technology comes with numerous benefits, it likewise brings many concerns. One of the issues that require attention is healthcare security. Hence, when selecting your office system, it should be Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant.
The HIPAA permits email and text appointment notifications as long as the software maintains patient data security. This requirement entails reducing the private medical data included in the reminder. A few examples are the following:
- Avoid including patient names in the text message or email reminders.
- Don’t mention a treatment plan or medical diagnosis in the notification.
- Say the reminder comes from the doctor and don’t mention the name of the medical clinic.
- Allows Real-Time Synchronisation
Another tip to consider when selecting your system is to see if it allows real-time synchronisation with an Electronic Health Record (EHR). The EHR is basically an electronic format of patient’s medical records.
This aspect is vital for everyone so that doctors and clients are up-to-date on their schedules. If the system offers real-time syncing, patients can cancel their doctor’s appointment using the system, and then it will update the EHR without the personnel doing extra tasks.
- Enables Tailored Messages
Besides reminding patients of their appointments, notifications can also include other information such as appointment type and further vital details. For instance, the patient’s insurance coverage changed. Thus, the billing department will need the client’s new health card.
The appointment reminder can include these details so that the patient will not forget to bring the card. Moreover, when you select a software that allows tailoring of messages, it’ll enable you to choose the right language to use if the patient doesn’t know English.
Know that there is software that features customising and storing messages, so you can readily send the reminders based on the patient’s needs.
- Read Software Reviews
Lastly, buying a patient appointment reminder system is an investment. Hence, before making that investment, it’s crucial to read software reviews from people who already utilized the system.
When researching reviews, you’ll discover feedback from medical doctors or other practices. In some instances, patients also provide their comments regarding their experience in using the software.
Keep in mind the following pointers when browsing through software reviews:
- Is the software straightforward to use?
- Does the software perform well?
- Does it enhance medical workflow?
- Does the software send appointment reminders properly?
- Is the system’s customer service useful?
Why is the System Essential?
As you’re now familiar with the patient appointment reminder system, you must understand its relevance. Listed below are some of the reasons:
- Reinforces Patient Satisfaction: When advising patients of their scheduled appointments, they feel they’re treasured clients. This measure adds up to their total satisfaction, and clients are most likely to return. Moreover, with people adapting to digital technology, they’ll respond more to text or email reminders.
- Effective Communication: Adults allocate approximately four hours a day on their mobile phones. Because of this fact, communicating through phones is an effective method to relay messages. Sending appointment reminders via mobile phones will allow you to lower your expenses and save time.
- Efficient Interaction with No Shows: In general, an electronic appointment reminder system lets your personnel inform patients that they missed their doctor’s visit. At the same time, the staff can urge the client to reschedule using their computer or mobile phone.
- Extend Operating Hours Without Supplementing Staff: Because appointment reminder software is online, the service is available 24/7. It allows you to send patient notifications outside of your business hours, so clients can definitely view and receive them.
Guide in Writing Text Reminders
Here are guidelines to remember when sending reminders through text messages:
- Make the Message Clear: Appointment reminders aren’t the time to be humorous. Send the necessary information as clearly as possible.
- Keep the Text Short: Clients must remember the essential detail in your message: the time and date of their doctor’s appointment. Hence, make sure your text message is short so as not to confuse patients.
- Ensure the Text is Actionable: Consider formatting your text in a way that clients can simply confirm their schedule. The standard method to do this is to request patients to reply with a ‘Y,’ ‘N,’ or ‘C’ for confirmation.
- Insert Emojis: Are you looking for ways to introduce a personal touch to your appointment reminders? Why not consider inserting emojis? You can add them as a personal touch to your notifications, and they don’t take up too much space.
In this situation, the majority of people can say they have missed one or two doctor’s appointments. This type of scenario may seem negligible to many. However, if the incident happens habitually, it’ll come at an expense.
On the patient’s part, they’ll lose the chance to receive vital care. In case the medical practice imposes late cancellation fees, they still have to cover this cost. Meanwhile, they lose profit on the doctor’s side because of the vacant slot that could have been occupied.
As mentioned above, implementing an appointment reminder is an optimal approach to remind patients of their doctor’s visit. Moreover, the system informs medical practice of cancellation so that they can fill the slot with a new patient.