Richard Lango June 30th, 2010
“Failed appointments pose financial as well as administrative problems for residency practices. Proactive reminder systems are needed to promote patient attendance.” Concludes a study carried out to determine the effects of patient no-shows at clinics. The study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that cancellations and no-shows covered 31.1% of scheduled appointments and gobbled up 32.2% of scheduled time. This results in a revenue shortfall of between 3% and 14% within one year.
This study shows the seriousness of no-shows in any medical practice. Therefore, you cannot afford to take it for granted. You need to set up a good patient appointment reminder system to help your patients and your business. Most of the patient no-shows are as a result of the patients forgeting about their appoinments for one reason or another.
The secret here is the word good. There are very many reminder services in the market, and not all of them will suit your purposes. So, what constitutes a good reminder program?
The reminder software you are using helps you to get in touch with your patients in the best way possible. This means that it needs to have a way of reaching all types of people, hence it should get in touch with the patients in a variety of ways, including:
Telephone is a very good way of getting in touch with many people. An automated telephone reminder is especially suitable for the elderly who do not often use the newer modes of communication.
You will cater to the needs of the patients who prefer using the telephone. However, you can still miss some people since not all people have installed an answering system in case they are away.
Many people use email nowadays, which makes it a convenient way of reaching them. There are some people who use email as their main mode of communication.
If your reminder software uses email alone, however, you will not serve every person well. In addition, the prevalence of spam mail has resulted in spam filters that can inadvertently send your reminders to the spam folders.
Apart from the fact that very many people use cell phones, text messages have the added advantage that you will reach your patients wherever they are. This is an especially good choice for busy individuals who travel often.
However, the patients have to pay for the text messages.
Your patient reminder service should therefore include all these options. Preventing just one no-show in a month suffices to cover your subscription.