Busy holidays remind psychiatrists of importance of reminder calls

January 10th, 2009


The busy holiday season means more than just people rushing to complete last minute shopping and attending lots of holiday parties. It is also one of the busiest times for certain healthcare providers who deal with patients that suffer from both physical and mental stresses.

Along with cold and flu viruses that run rampant during the winter holiday season, mental and emotional stressors also fly high. Unfortunately, for many psychiatric patients, there is so much going on that it is easy to forget visits to the psychiatrist. Thus, the always important appointment reminder call is especially vital during this period of high stress and multiple distractions.

It sounds simple enough – have a receptionist make daily appointment reminder calls to let patients know of upcoming visits. The efficiency and accuracy of this process is often up for debate when reminder calls are delivered by live receptionists. Just as providers are busy during high traffic times, office staff is easily overwhelmed. Many psychiatrists rely on one receptionist, or a small staff, to manage in-clinic visits, call answering, paperwork, errands, and other office tasks. This can be stressful and challenging during heightened busy seasons. Medical office staff has a traditionally high turnover rate because of the amount of stress and exhaustion.

What is a psychiatry practice to do then? Reminder calls are necessary to ensure appointment times are filled and follow up visits are kept, but the challenges have been identified. What if there is a solution that allows the practice to efficiently and accurately deliver telephone reminder calls every day, with confirmation or cancellation options, appointment notes, and other vital details? Fortunately, there is. A best in class automated appointment reminder software solution can be programmed to efficiently make appointment reminder calls every day, and at a very moderate up front cost and with little to no ongoing maintenance requirements.

The benefits of using an automated reminder solution are more than just delivery of the reminder calls. Sure, improving rates of customers showing up for scheduled appointments is important. But, office morale is also given a boost when the automated reminder call solution kicks in. The receptionist is able to focus on giving personal attention to sometimes fragile customers and their needs. He or she can also accurately and effectively complete important insurance claims paperwork. The psychiatrist benefits as well. Psychiatry professionals already operate in a high stress environment. Removing some of the stressors of managing tough office situations makes things even more difficult.

Reminder calls are not just an effective tool for reminding patients of upcoming visits. The automated reminder includes a confirmation or cancellation option that lets the provider know the patient’s intention. The solution can also be used, though, to follow up with patients to remind them to schedule their next visit. With distractions abound, patients can easily lose track of the need to schedule their next visits which can cause bigger issues down the road. The multiple capabilities of a top automated reminder solution, combined with its moderate cost and office benefits, makes it a great investment before, during, or after the stressful holiday season.

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