We used to be a practice without a strategy for how we would remind patients about their upcoming appointments. Well, let me correct myself. We were a practice in need of a strategy. No-shows were getting out of control, and we attributed that in large part to the increasingly busy lives and growing obligations of today’s patients. Without a way to remind them of a visit, it was becoming more and more common to see those patients forget.
We solved that challenge by adopting automated notifications to connect with patients ahead of their appointment. It’s a simple concept, but it took us a long time to say “Hey, we need this in our practice”. Once we embraced those reminder notifications, we saw our patient no-show rate cut in half. That’s no exaggeration.
My message to healthcare organizations that haven’t yet put a reminder strategy in place is simply this: You need to do it ASAP.
Here are three reasons why appointment notifications have cut our no-show rate in half:
- We’re breaking through the clutter. It really is true that today’s patients are busier than ever with more demands on their attention from jobs, family and other aspects of their lives. Our appointment notifications give us a way to make sure we connect about the visit. They either answer their phone and respond to the message or let it go to voicemail. Even that voicemail message is valuable, since patients can store it on their phone for future reference.
- We can capture cancellations. Reminder or no reminder, there will always be some patients who will need to miss their scheduled appointment. The great thing about delivering reminder notifications is that we give patients a chance to tell us they need to cancel or reschedule. That’s extremely valuable because our team can then reach out to another patient in need of care to offer that appointment slot.
- Patients are prepared for their appointments. In many cases, there’s more responsibility for a patient than simply showing up. We use that pre-appointment reminder message to remind them to bring insurance cards, lists of medications or whatever we need to provide quality care during their visit. Encouraging them to bring these items prevents any need to reschedule that appointment for a later date.
We connect with our patients about their visits, we capture any adjustments that need to be made to the schedule, and we make sure they are prepared to proceed with the visit once they arrive. Those three actions have cut our no-show rate in half.
Not bad for a simple notification, eh?
Joyce Everett serves as Practice Manager for Surgical Associates of Cleveland in Cleveland, TN. She has over 36 years of practice management experience and is very active in the Medical Group Management Association, AAPC (where she is a certified coder) and the American College of Medical Practice Executives. Her personal interests include church and spending time with her family.