Appointment Reminders

Appointment Reminders

What are appointment reminders?

With everyone being busy and occupied in one’s life, it is only natural that few important things slip from the crack and down into oblivion. As dramatic as that might sound, it holds true as most people forget about their important appointments. 

A study shows that as much as 30% forget about their follow-up appointments and a whopping 50% of patients don’t show up. 

This is where appointment reminders come in. As a practice owner, having an appointment reminder software in your office will help you remind your patients of their upcoming visits without having to put your staff to do it manually. 

As people’s lives are getting busier they are now more attached to their phones than ever. This can be leveraged to your advantage. Research shows that 98% of text messages are read by the recipients. So, where exactly am I going with this? 

Well, appointment reminders in the form of text, just maybe your savior. 
Let’s dive into the details and see why automated appointment reminders are the way to go. 

Why Appointment reminders?

Having an appointment reminder gives you a lot of freedom. Freedom in deciding when to send the reminders, freedom for your staff from continuous calls to the patients, and freedom for the patients to choose an available slot according to their preference.

How frequently you want to send the reminders is also up to to your discretion.
Regular reminders also imbibe a sense of urgency and responsibility in the patient to take an action accordingly as they know that they are being reminded of something really important. 

Benefits of Appointment Reminders 

Reduce business loss 

As patients become regular with keeping up their appointments it would inevitably reduce the loss in revenue

If patients are not available for the appointment and this is informed to the practice staff prior to the appointment, it leaves room for others to take up the appointment and not have that slot vacant. 

Increase operational efficiency 

Throughout the week people tend to be occupied, leaving little time for them to check up on their personal commitments. Therefore the best time to connect with the patients is on weekends and on after work hours. Expecting your staff to call patients at these timings can be unreasonable. 

This is where an automated appointment reminder can help you. You can schedule to send these reminders even on weekends and after hours when the reminders are more likely to get read. 

It can be really cumbersome for your staff to try and follow up with the patients again and again. At times patients may not pick up the call due to unavailability or being reached out at an unsuitable time. Your staff would then have to try and call them again until they get a hold of the patient and even then the confirmation cannot be guaranteed. 

Automated appointment reminders could free your staff of this responsibility and leave them to cater to more important things that need their attention.

Additional Capabilities

Patients who fail to show up might have done so because they were unavailable at that time, or if something came up last minute. That’s completely natural and unavoidable at times. 

Following up with these patients about their missed appointment is a good practice that you can adopt. This way they would be able to select the next convenient slot for themselves and try not to miss the appointment this time around. This is something that you can set up with an automated appointment reminder. 

With automated appointment reminders patients can have the power to easily confirm appointments, reschedule, or cancel if needed. 

Does your practice need appointment reminders?

Now that we’ve outlined the advantages of the appointment reminder,  let’s see if there’s a need for one in your practice. 

One easy way to determine if your practice needs the appointment reminder is by taking a look at the number of no-shows and cancellations. If the number is higher than the industry average and causing significant revenue loss, it is highly recommended to invest in automated appointment reminders. 

Another way to determine its need is by analyzing the amount of time spent by your staff on reminder calls. Precious time that can be utilized on other important things can get wasted trying to follow up with patients repeatedly.

When and where should you send these reminders?

To understand what would be your ideal means of communication with your patient, you need to study your patient demographic carefully. 
Numerous studies have pointed out that older people prefer communication over the phone and the young prefer communication over text.

It is smart to invest in appointment reminder software as the majority of patients come from the demographic that prefer texting over any means of communication. 
Like we discussed at the beginning of the article, text messaging has an open rate of 98% thus making it the most optimal mode of communication. 

With this statistic by your side be rest assured that your message will be read and registered in the patient’s mind. Hence a text-based appointment reminder is the way to go. 
Text messaging also warrants ease of communication. With the automated text reminders, the users would be able to reschedule, confirm, or cancel an appointment with ease. 

Other means include reminders sent through email, postcard, or phone calls. 

How to pick an appointment reminder software for your practice?

Before you narrow down on a software for your practice, there are a few things you should take into consideration. 

It would be wise for you to include your staff in this decision-making process as they will be able to give you an exact idea of the requirements according to the on-ground numbers. 

You should also consider those softwares that work with your PMS. Other criteria for shortlisting a software include cross-checking the following functions – 

  • Mode of communication 
    According to your analysis, you need to see if you require the reminder to be sent in the form of text, mail, or phone, or do you prefer a combination of all?
  • Includes capabilities tailored to your practice needs – 

       Check if the software includes features to edit, set and schedule the reminders according to your preference.
       Also, check if it allows for setting the frequency of reminders and the preferred time for sending them. 
       You can schedule to send these reminders even on weekends and after hours when the reminders are                 more likely to get read. 

Templates for reminders 

Here are some templates you can use for your text and mail reminders. 

Text reminder templates –

  • Dear [Client’s first name], this is a friendly reminder from [Name]/[Company name] about your appointment on [Date] from [Start time] till [End time]. If you need to reschedule, confirm or cancel your appointment, please do the following. {Actions according to the software}.
  • Reminder from [Name]/[Company name] about your appt [Date] from [Start time] please confirm YES or NO, or {Action} if you want to reschedule. 
  • **CONFIRMATION REQUIRED** Dear [Client’s first name], this is a reminder from [Name]/[Company name] about your appointment on [Date] at [Start time]. Please reply to confirm

 Email reminder templates –

  • Subject: See you on [DATE-TIME]!

       Hey there, [FIRST-NAME]! Just a quick reminder that you are scheduled for a visit to [PRACTICE NAME]             on [DATE-TIME].

       If you have any questions or you need to reschedule,  call us at [PHONE]. We’re here [OFFICE-HOURS]             on  [OFFICE-DAYS]. Hoping to see you soon!

       Best,

       [PRACTICE NAME]

  • Subject:  We’re excited to see you, [FIRST-NAME]!

    Your next appointment with [PRACTICE-NAME] is on [DATE-TIME]. We’ll be counting the minutes!

    If you need to reschedule, please give us a call. (Getting stood up is no fun at all.) Our number is [OFFICE            PHONE], and we’re here [OFFICE-HOURS] on [BUSINESS-DAYS].

    Have a great day!

    Best,

    [BUSINESS-NAME]

You’ll find that many templates tailored to your healthcare practice can be formed and found! If it’s a dental office, dermatologist, veterinary the choices are unlimited.  

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