Archive for the tag 'automated telephone reminder'

Slash Patient No-Shows Through Automated Appointment Reminder

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.

Time and money: effects of no-shows at a family practice residency clinic

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

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.

Email

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.

Text message

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.

Which Medical Appointment Reminder Suits your Practice; the Email Reminder or Telephone Reminder?

Martin Wright July 14th, 2009


When you decided to become a private practitioner you probably started out with a handful of patients. Appointments were easy to keep track of and you probably thought that your medical receptionist was the most efficient front desk receptionist available. You knew each patient down to their dog’s name and so did everyone in the practice.

Your practice has probably grown since then and keeping track of your patients and their appointments is becoming more of a challenge for both your patients and especially for your medical receptionist. You can help ease the burden on your front desk receptionist and the rest of your medical staff by investing in an email reminder or telephone reminder. A telephone or email reminder will remind patients of their appointment either online or via a telephone call according to your preference.

The success of your reminder service will directly affect the success of your practice. Deciding on which type of appointment reminder service will suit you best will be influenced by your practice and your patients. Check your patients’ personal records for their contact information. If most of them have email addresses then an email reminder would be suitable. If most of your patients do not have email addresses then a telephone reminder would be more logical.

You ought to consider the type of practice you are running and the type of people you receive as patients. If majority of your patients are elderly or from poor neighborhoods, an email reminder may not reach as many of your patients as you would like. Even if these patients had email addresses they would not spend much time surfing as they either cannot afford to or do not know how to. An email reminder would be suitable in a practice where the patients have access to the Internet and check their emails regularly.

Doctors should also consider the preference of their patients. Some patients will be irritated by receiving telephone calls reminding them of appointments at regular intervals. Such patients would much rather have an email reminder sent to their email addresses. Others would prefer to be alerted via telephone as they are probably prone to forgetting about their appointments easily. This is especially true for elderly patients.

Both a telephone and email reminder are only 90% effective. No doctor can be assured 100% of the successful delivery of all reminders on either service. A telephone reminder may not be delivered as the patient may not answer the telephone. An email reminder may not be read as the patient may fail to check his or her email in good time.

It is therefore advisable for a doctor to invest in both a telephone and email reminder. It may seem expensive in the beginning but the returns will be well worth it. Both services are inexpensive to maintain and working together will guarantee you a more successful delivery. Your patients can even choose the reminder service they prefer.

Turn “uh-oh no-show” into $$$ with automated reminder service

Jon May 21st, 2009


Some doctors insist on letting their own staff to make patient reminder calls instead of using reminder service! They believe such calls make the service more “personal”.

Is it really better, for patient or for medical office, if a reminder call is made by staff (or more “personal”) than automated system?

Let’s face it. We all live busy lives, and none of us have too much extra time for small talk. The last time my doctor’s office called me to remind me of an upcoming appointment the receptionist began with, “Hi, how are you feeling?” It was a very nice sentiment – but one in which my busy day, I don’t have time to be engaged in. I was very nice, but a call that should’ve taken 10 seconds, ended up taking 3 minutes. And, really- who wants to waste anytime let alone speaking to a receptionist at your doctor’s office?

Vice versa, I am pretty sure there are receptionists that get caught into an undesired long conversation by patients bring up issues that are beyond their control. “Can you tell doctor that I still have this pain over…”. “How comes the medicine I took is not working…”.

It got me to thinking – wouldn’t that a receptionist’s time be better served talking to patients in person at the office and not bantering over the phone? And, wouldn’t it make more sense for the receptionist to be doing something more productive for the practice?
And, that’s where the idea of the automated reminder service comes in.

A reminder service automatically calls patients and reminds them of their appointments. With the virtual system in place, the call is made on time and is quick and easy. Patients like it because you’re not taking up their valuable time. And, there is a hidden benefit for the medical practice as well.

The hidden benefit is by using a reminder service – you are actually cutting your cost and increasing revenue. Why? First of all, you are turning potential “no-shows” into returning patients. The more patients you can maintain in your practice, the more your revenue increases. In addition, this frees up your live receptionist to do more important business around the office. For example, because the automatic reminder service is handling reminding patients about their appointments, the receptionist can focus on attracting new patients. Attracting new patients is something an automated system may not do – but reminding current patients of their appointments is absolutely something the virtual service can and will do effectively. And, when no-shows at your medical practice go down and customer satisfaction goes up because of the automated reminders – you have struck gold!

And all of this, without perhaps alienating your patients by unnecessary small talk or – even worse – by being put on hold during the appointment reminder process. The automated reminder cuts down on many different things that could adversely affect the patient’s experience.

And, there is one more thing to keep in mind as well. An automated appointment reminder system can be programmed to do many different things. Calling and reminding patients of their appointments is just one small aspect. Imagine programming the system to speak in the language the patient speaks – automatically! Or, imagine the automated reminder system calling to remind patients about prescription refills or other necessary items that could impact their health? There are many different uses for the virtual reminder system – all of which help bring in more patients and help keep your current patients satisfied. And, when your patients are happy, the practice is happy because chances are those patients are telling their friends what a wonderful office experience they had!

Due Diligence Necessary When Selecting an Appointment Reminder Service

Richard E PANTALONY December 14th, 2008


Not all appointment reminder services are created equal. When you begin your quest for the optimum automated appointment reminder system, take the time to try the demos the vendors offer before you buy. Committing to appointment reminder software that is sub par will only reflect poorly on your ability to make good choices. Take the time to find what is right for your office.

Seek the assistance of your fulltime medical office receptionist or speak to whoever is on the frontline of client and patient calling in your office. Your staff could guide you on whether the medical reminder systems you are trying are worth the investment. Count on your employees to offer their opinions. Consider them carefully as part of your due diligence process.

Make sure the company you decide to do medical reminder business with has a reputation for customer service and longevity in the marketplace. The last thing you need is to hook up with a vendor and find they are out of business when you require their help. If possible, make your initial inquiries with the main company directly; let them choose a specific reseller for you. It is preferable to deal with someone who is exclusively committed to the sale and service of appointment reminder services.

Some appointment reminder services will ask you for a long-term service contract and this should be avoided like the plague in today’s tight economy. Try to research the company’s viability by finding out how long they have been in business. Do a Google search of the company name and read about what has been written about them in reviews. Beware of penalties charged for early service cancellation and try to arrange a pay for use or month to month invoicing.

Determine if you are capable of training yourself on automated appointment reminder software in house. Some medical reminder services require you set up the service yourself online in connecting to your current network. Do you need this added responsibility or would you prefer that the appointment reminder service vendor set everything up? Both options have their valid points to consider.

If you are time or technically challenged then Internet based appointment reminder services will be perfect for you. These systems are generally simple to learn, quickly activated by staff, and are maintenance free. Technical support is usually only a toll free call away and appointment reminder service tech support is usually available without much waiting or fuss.

Every business or medical practice has special needs for an appointment reminder service. You should be sure that your system has all the features for your particular business. For example, email is far more prevalent today than it was only 5 years ago; you must cater to the needs of patients who have their Blackberry’s glued to their palms. Email and phone reminders may be essential to them. You will be amazed how an appointment reminder service will assist your practice but do your homework.

Appointment Reminder for Your Practice

Julia McEachern December 11th, 2008


The complexities of running a medical office can be daunting. Practices, particularly solo practitioners, are finding it harder and harder to cover their overhead expenses, pay staff and malpractice insurance while still maintaining a full focus on patient care. Changes in staff, disgruntled patients, and low insurance company reimbursements often leave physician friends of mine questioning why they went into the practice of medicine. But in the end, their love for patients and desire to provide quality care always outweighs the rest. They continue to juggle and provide care while managing the pressures of running a practice and smaller things albeit important don’t get done.

Key to managing never-ending workloads, patient call backs and demands that are squeezed in between fifteen minute appointments, is the ability to utilize innovative methods and resources that focus on cost effective practice improvements. It is important that any change in practice patterns or medical practice management have a high yield, big benefit and can be incorporated seamlessly.

One of the things that I have found that make a big difference is appointment reminder calls. These have tremendous benefits all around. A 2006 study that evaluated the effectiveness of patient reminder calls showed that the rate of no show appointments significantly reduced when patient reminder calls were instituted. How do “no show” appointments currently affect your practice? Or, better yet – how do you accommodate patients who come in on the wrong day or time for their appointment because they were guessing about when to come? Lastly, has your practice tried to perform reminder calls in the past but found that they were haphazardly done when other more pressing priorities arose? These scenarios can greatly impact projected cash flow or cause disruption in patient flow.

If you had trouble answering any of the questions or find that you are looking for more ways to increase your practice’s efficiency or productivity, you should consider investing in appointment reminder. Online appointment reminder service does not require maintnance and are cost effective and pay for themselves. They can free up front office staff so that duties that are more hands on can be focused on more intently. You’ll find that office staff are more productive and may welcome one less “task” to perform. They can focus for instance on things like more accurate claims submissions for proper reimbursement from insurance companies.

Additionally, patients really appreciate appointment reminder. Often they themselves are multitasking and juggling multiple doctors’ appointments for family members and can easily loose track of when their own appointment is scheduled. The connection with the patient and great first impression can then begin before they even walk in to the practice. This helps to ensure patient loyalty and a higher degree of patient satisfaction which can also decrease medical liability.

As you can see, so many things come into play when a appointment reminder is instituted. It is very simple, easy to maintain, requires little upkeep, and has a big payoff.

Reminder call program keeps patients coming back for eye care

Neil Kokemuller December 2nd, 2008

Eye care clinics are recognizing increased competition and the need to drive consistent revenue and maintain patient relationships. As is the case with other medical providers, optometrists depend on consistently utilized appointment times to collect revenue from patients. Patient no-shows or missed follow up business can harm the long-term viability of any practice. A virtual reminder call program has become the answer for many of the top optometrists. An automated reminder call service is the most efficient, cost-effective, and accurate way to deliver telephone reminders to patients, thus reducing the number of no-shows and last minute appointment cancellations.

Historically, receptionists have been responsible for making reminder calls in optometry clinics. However, turnover has been fairly high in many healthcare offices because receptionists are stressed, overwhelmed and fatigued. Many practices operate with one or two receptionists who are responsible for managing in-clinic patients, telephone calls, office communications, and insurance paperwork. The burden of doing all of these things, plus taking the time to making daily reminder phone calls can wear any person out. Even though good receptionists may try to accomplish all of these things effectively, at some point their stress causes them to lose effectiveness in handling personalized concerns of patients and accurately completing tasks.

The automated appointment reminder solution does not struggle with stress or fatigue. More importantly, it potentially relieves some of the stress and fatigue of the other members of an office staff. An optometrist relies on patient relationships for long-term success. An automated reminder helps reduce the number of forgotten appointments and helps increase revenue collection. Additionally, the reminder call enables the patient to either confirm or cancel. An early cancel allows the practice to schedule another patient during that time slot and not miss out on the revenue earning opportunity. The appointment reminder is also a good way to deliver important notes on what to bring or other instructions to patients based on their particular needs.

Automated reminder call program can perform these daily phone reminders efficiently and accurately without the possible irritability that accompanies some calls from receptionists. Top reminder call software programs also offer multilingual call capabilities to help serve a diverse population. The good news is that an automated reminder program does not have to cost too much. Solutions can be purchased for a moderate up front cost and typically require little to no ongoing maintenance. For many eye care practices, the use of an automated appointment reminder program can potentially mean the elimination of the need for a backup receptionist or part time receptionist to help with managing office tasks.

Additionally, the reminder call program not only performs its duties without fail, it also frees up the receptionist to complete his or her more important tasks efficiently and with less stress. The overall morale of the office is improved, patient care is more personable, and the practice benefits through a reduced number of patient no-shows and better long-term relationships with its patients.

Reduce Medical Appointment No-Shows Through Automated Scheduling

Dr. Hawkins December 2nd, 2008

Your waiting room is full of patients reading magazines in anticipation of their name being called. Even though the waiting room is full, there are still no-shows. Every no-show slows down the rate at which you can see the patients that showed up because the medical receptionist holds out hope that the patient will eventually arrive. Despite your carefully worded and publicized cancellation policy, no-shows seem to be an inevitable fact of medical practice. Fortunately there are steps that you can take to control the problem.

The reasons that patients miss appointments are many. Studies done on the topic show that reasons range from lack of transportation, confusion about date and time, too sick to move, and simple memory lapse. Automated appointment scheduling cannot solve all of these reasons, but the right appointment reminder system can cut down on many of them.

Patients who forget their scheduled appointments are a source of poor medical service and revenue loss for clinics. Excessive patient no-shows directly impact nearly every level of medical care and office efficiency. Automated appointment scheduling is an easy solution to preventing medical no-shows and the wasted resources they create.

Patient Care

Continuity of care is greatly impacted with high no-show rates. When patients do not call to cancel an appointment or just forget to show up, many times a new appointment fails to be scheduled. Also, there tends to be a time lag in rescheduling that can negatively affect treatment plans. No-shows directly relate to longer wait times for the patients that did make their appointments. These patients get frustrated and possibly angry by the wait and this affects the medical interview and therefore treatment.

Automated telephone reminder services can reduce no-shows and cancellations. Self-service patient appointment scheduling will help encourage patients to reschedule their missed appointments. Adhering to treatment plans is vital to good health care. In a way, a good medical appointment scheduler will assist you in making and keeping your patients healthy.

Clinical Staffing

Productivity takes a hit when there are too many missed appointments. When your clinic appears to less busy than it should be there is an underestimation of your office staffing needs. When staff size is based on incorrect assumptions, patient care could suffer but your bottom line certainly will.

A patient appointment reminder service automatically contacts patients about when and where they need to be. Your staff is then freed up to handle any other clinical priorities. This takes away much of the chaos and confusion of botched appointment scheduling. With a steady flow of patients it is far easier to predict correct amount of staff required to operate your practice. As a bonus, the best of these web-based scheduling services will include multilingual capability, which can expand your practice.

Financials

As I mentioned, budget planning is very difficult with unanticipated no-shows. It’s almost impossible for you to accurately form a revenue projection with intermittent missed appointments. You might try to overbook in order to make up for the income that is lost from no-shows; however, if everyone then makes their appointments you are slammed and your patients are angry.

Quality 24/7 patient scheduling programs help control costs. This makes for more accurate revenue projections that keep your staff and office operations in the smooth, steady flow that enhances a success practice.

Cut down on patient appointment no-shows with reminder call technology

Aubrey Andrews November 28th, 2008

Would you like to reclaim over 18 wasted appointment times a week? Or help your practice as a whole reclaim cash wasted in missed appointments? If your answer is yes, then you should take advantage of the latest in telephone reminder software for your practice.

A survey by the Doctor-Patient Partnership in the UK showed that on average, a UK practice misses 18 appointments a week per GP, and a further eight with a practice nurse. This amounts to a staggering 10.5 million missed appointments over the UK alone, and at an average of £18 per consultation, this is costing the health service around £187m a year.

You can do your bit to reduce figures like this, and at the same time improve the efficiency of your practice in general, by employing the services of a virtual receptionist, and the automated appointment reminder service that comes with it.

Taxi technology

The technology used by telephone reminder services can already be seen in day-to-day life. Many among us will have phoned for a taxi at some point over the last few months, and received an automated phone call shortly afterwards (or not-so shortly in the case of some taxi companies!), telling us that the taxi is about to pull up outside. Unlike in the past, when this meant that the taxi had in fact only just left the depot, the automated nature of the call means that your car really is just around the corner, and that reminder call saves frantic curtain twitching looking out for the taxi.

Taxi companies use this technology just to make sure that their customers are ready in time, but for a doctor’s surgery, it can make sure that your patients turn up at all, or at least remind them to cancel appointments that are no longer needed.

Cost efficient

By reminding patients of their appointments, it can pay for itself in no time at all, you are able to end that revenue loss. Your automated appointment reminder offers call-backs or reminders which are sent out to your patients, and some services can even ask them to make a follow-up appointment or relay messages.

Despite the above statistics, most people do want to make their appointments; the one in 10 people who do fail to turn up are usually due to having simply forgotten about their appointment. Thus the automated telephone reminder service provided by a virtual medical receptionist is an ideal way to address this issue.

Virtual receptionist features

A multilingual appointment reminder service can contact your patients in their own language and leave messages in a clear and informative manner. The service can also detect the difference between human voices and answering machines, and will retry unanswered calls at different times of the day until it gets an answer.

The virtual receptionist logs all calls, attempts and results with efficiency and accuracy.

Reminder calls are just one aspect offered by a virtual medical receptionist, and such calls, in general, are received well and greatly valued by patients, so this part of the package can be a good way to get your patients familiar with a service which you might want to expand upon at a later date.

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