For years, healthcare providers have entrusted the United States Postal Service with delivery of patient communication outreach. Communications such as appointment reminders, billing statements, and anything in-between were always sent via snail mail — no questions asked. As times and technology have changed, so have the rates of effectiveness and efficiency surrounding mailed outreach.
The pitfalls associated with mailing provider-patient communications are well documented. Whether it’s the high cost per mailing, unpredictable delivery times, overhead/outsourcing costs, or even knowing whether or not the patient received the communication — providers are seeking alternative methods for reaching out to their patients.
Let’s look at a simple appointment reminder communication. Time-sensitive in nature, these communications must reach patients days in advance of their scheduled appointment time. According to the USPS, first class mail reaches most recipients within the continental United States between 2 and 4 days. If you’re sending out standard mail, you can plan on a 1 to 4 week delivery lapse. On top of that, neither of these mail classes guarantees specific delivery dates.
As a provider, you’re taking an assumed risk that the patient may not receive the appointment reminder in time. The immediate fallout from this common occurrence is an uptick in no-show rates, increased gaps in care and lost revenue for your practice. It’s a risk many providers are no longer willing to take.
Are the risks associated with mailed communications worth the financial investment and potential negative outcomes? It’s a question that more and more providers are asking themselves every day.