This is Part 10 of a series of blog posts where we’ll offer ideas for improving patient notifications strategies one letter at a time. They’ll be available as an eBook soon (like any day now), so keep your eyes peeled!
J – just-in-time
No one at TeleVox has an advanced degree in educational psychology or has published any research on human memory. At least not that we know of. Maybe we should ask around.
However…we’ll take the word of numerous providers who have reported that delivering reminder communications as close as possible to a patient’s scheduled appointment time is positively correlated with them actually showing up for that appointment. For the staffs who manually call patients with those reminders the day before their visit, this isn’t really an issue. But for those teams who mail postcard reminders to their patients, it’s very likely you’re actually too far in front of the appointment date to achieve maximum impact and recall from patients.
Many practices claim to mail postcards 2-3 weeks ahead of the appointment date, and part of the reason for that is to be sure there are no delays in mail delivery. Totally understandable. After all, what good is the reminder if it shows up AFTER the appointment date? But what happens to postcards that show up a week or two early? Sure, some end up on the fridge or marked on the calendar as intended. But more end up set to the side at your patient’s residence or thrown in the trash (Noooo!!!).
Ideally, you want that message to reach a patient about 2 days before their appointment, so they have an ample reminder and you have time to fill a hole in the schedule if the patient can’t make it. With phone calls (manual or automated), you can control that. With mailers, you can’t.