Everyone has appointments, especially in the medical industry. Without them, wait times would be similar to those in an Emergency Room, and no one wants that. Your patients are taking care of themselves and their families. They have obligations they need to fulfill in their professional, academic, and personal lives. Medical appointments are important, and providers do not want patients who are juggling a full load of responsibilities to lose track and miss their appointments in the shuffle.
Your staff and every patient who walks through your doors will benefit from successful reminder texts. When things go as scheduled, everyone has a better experience. Appointment reminders help to keep everyone on track. If your practice is currently using phone calls for these reminders and experiencing limited success, it may be time to change your approach.
The Importance of Appointment Reminders
Appointment reminder texts are beneficial for everyone from staff to patients. People who miss their appointments or run late may delay appointments for people who showed up on time, causing them to have a negative experience with your medical practice due to another patient’s mistake.
Patients who misunderstood information about their upcoming appointment may be frustrated to be turned away for showing up late or on the wrong day, causing your office staff to shuffle to accommodate them. These issues can be avoided.
A simple reminder can prevent a hassle that not only inconveniences the patient, but everyone else around the patient. You want to be able to provide the best care and service for your patients, and part of that process is making sure that everyone attends at the proper time. Appointment reminders are a simple and effective way to ensure that operations run smoothly.
The Trouble with Reminder Phone Calls
Most single provider medical practices see an average of 20 patients a day. That means that your staff has to make 20 calls each day per provider to remind them of their upcoming appointments. The problem with phone calls is that most people don’t answer their phone or check their voicemail.
People prefer to avoid using their phones while they’re driving. Some people keep their phone on silent or in their locker while at work. Additionally, if the patient doesn’t have the number saved, they may forward it to voicemail mistakenly believing that it’s a robocall or a telemarketer.
This means that your staff will need to make significantly more than 20 calls to reach those 20 people, and they may not reach them at all. A reminder isn’t effective if the recipient is never aware of it.
Your staff could be effectively wasting hours each week attempting to contact people who are unable to answer their phones. Your staff are calling patients during working hours, when most of your patients are also at work. This creates an inevitable and potentially unending game of phone tag.
This can be frustrating or disheartening to your staff. They’re working hard, and they wear many hats. You want them to be able to perform their duties as efficiently and effectively as possible. For these reasons and many more, phone calls may not be the best solution in these scenarios. Automatic texting can save a substantial amount of time and help your reminders reach more patients.
Why Reminder Texts Are Better
Nearly everyone has a smartphone. It’s rare for patients to provide a landline number during their intake. Considering this, sending a text ensures that the message and appointment details always get through to the patient.
Texts are much better than phone calls for busy patients. Patients can easily check their text messages during their lunch hour or after they get home from work and reply at their leisure. Mobile data statistics show that Americans spend an average of an astounding 5.4 hours per day using their smartphones, checking their phones over 50 times, per day. Chances are therefore very high that every patient will receive and acknowledge an appointment reminder text.
There’s no reason not to automate these important appointment reminders and reduce the amount of time your staff spends contacting patients. Using Art of Chat, you can send and respond to text reminders, and if the conversation continues, you and your staff can text further to reschedule or answer additional questions right from the office (or home) computer and to their smart phones without even picking up the phone. Also, there is a certain level anonymity for you and your practice when texting, that there might not be if you are a solo provider making appointment reminder phone calls.
Creating the Perfect Appointment Reminder Text
Your appointment reminder texts should be effective without bombarding your patients. You don’t want your texts to be translated as spam, so it’s important to provide your patients with the number you will be texting them from. They can then save it in their phone and your practice number will show up as a contact they can easily communicate with.
An appointment confirmation text following the initial booking of an appointment is useful for the patient to add the appointment to their own calendar and should contain vital information such as the date, time, location, or any other important information.
You can then reiterate this information in a more simple reminder text a day or two, or even a week before the appointment. It’s important to send the valuable information when it’s most needed, and to not over-inundate patients with too many messages. Should anything come up at the last minute, the reminder texts will be simple to reply to and prompt your patients to call or rearrange their schedules to accommodate their upcoming appointment.
Your appointment reminder should always encourage patients to contact you directly if they need to reschedule. In fact, it’s best practice to not even use the word “cancel” in your reminder. Cancellations may hurt the financial bottom line of your practice, but that isn’t the only negative impact they can have cancellations could possibly harm a patient’s health.
Patients sometimes may not realize just how important an annual physical or other scheduled appointment is to their wellbeing. They could be cancelling any number of services, such as a mammogram or a prostate exam that can potentially save their lives. Patients sometimes believe that they’re perfectly well simply because they don’t feel sick. However, it’s in the best interest of the patient that they follow through with their scheduled appointments, even if they don’t see a pressing reason to do so. Therefore, it is important to provide patients and your practice the opportunity to communicate anytime there is a need.
Your Practice Needs Art of Chat
Although appointment reminders are one of the most important tools for your medical practice, they aren’t the only valuable function Art of Chat provides. Group announcement texts and review management features will help your practice further grow and thrive while making patient to office communication a breeze. Your office staff and your patients will thank you for making their lives easier!