November 2, 2020

Appointment Reminder Best Practices to Reduce No Shows

“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

While being forgetful might be advantageous for some, forgotten appointments are not good for your practice or for patients. Studies show that gaps in daily appointments—no shows and failure to fill schedules—contribute to longer wait times, negative relationships between patients and staff, and longer, more costly hospital admissions.

Why do people miss their appointments? Some simply forget of course. Others don’t show up due to cost concerns or even fear of procedures.

Reminders are an obvious solution for those prone to forgetfulness. But with a plethora of available technology options, how do you know which to choose? The answer begins by understanding how your patients prefer to engage.

Appointment reminders are one of the first interactions your practice will have with patients. Communicating in ways patients prefer is an excellent way to make a good first impression—and increase the likelihood that your reminders will inspire the behavior you hope to influence.

Creating a mix of communication channels helps you meet patients where they are most likely to engage. Each mode carries its own benefits, so using a strategic mix is essential:

  • Phone: Automated phone reminders lends a personal approach to an automated process. With messages recorded by your office staff, or with professional voice talent, your patients hear a warm human voice on the line. Information can be tailored to reflect appointment location, provider, and appointment type.
  • Text: Most texts are viewed within 90 seconds of distribution, which makes them a smart quick pre-visit reminder channel. Texts also can be used to provide confirmations, reschedule and click-to-call options, and rapid responses to patient questions.
  • Email: Tailor long- or short-form information to inspire action from mobile or desktop platforms with features like “Save to Calendar” or links to pre-visit information and forms.

A multi-pronged, or OmniChannel communication approach that employs a variety of strategies designed to encourage interaction—and that can react intelligently to patient responses—will keep patients engaged in their care decisions and inspired to follow through with scheduled and confirmed appointments. In fact, a multi-touch, automated medical appointment outreach strategy tailored to a patient’s preferred communication channel(s) can decrease no-show rates by 80 percent.

There are other benefits too. Tailored touchpoints increase the odds that patients will properly prepare for their appointments, have the necessary documentation, and remember to follow pre-visit and check-in guidelines—more urgent than ever before with COVID safety precautions front and center.

Don’t let your practice suffer negative financial and clinical effects of appointment no shows. Engage with patients through a creative mix of automated digital and phone messages to ensure they keep their appointments, helping them to stay healthy, and your practice to stay on track with revenue management goals!