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Beyond appointment reminders

October 4, 2019

Many practices use an automated system for sending appointment reminders. You’re already paying for the service and the call, so why not maximize its value to your practice? Here’s some small changes to your appointment reminders that can yield big results.

Send reminders via phone, text and email. Most automated systems such as Televox and Phonetree provide all three formats for a single per-contact price. Depending on your vendor, you may be able to identify a different time for each format so that the patient can receive an email at 9 a.m., a phone call at mid-day when they can immediately call to reschedule, and a text reminder in the evening. In fact, texts are read 98% of the time.

Be sure your message includes information about your cancellation policy and no-show fees. By setting and following a standard policy you can maximize your providers’ time and reduce frustration.

At Coronis Health, we recently worked with a practice and revised their reminder message so that patients with an outstanding balance were informed of this fact. Pretty soon, the practice saw patients arriving for their appointments and asking to pay their old balance.

During flu season, primary care practices can add a line or two to your message reminding patients to ask for a flu shot during their visit or emphasizing the importance of getting a flu shot. Presto! You’ve just added a preventive service reminder that can be counted toward your Meaningful Use requirements.

And if you want to expand beyond appointment reminders, don’t forget that the same technology can be used to communicate with a subset of your patients on a wide variety of topics. Send your vendor an Excel file with a list of diabetic patients who are overdue for their HgA1c tests and provide a customized message encouraging them to call to schedule an appointment.  If you currently follow-up with patients who missed an appointment or keep a recall list, let technology relieve your staff by making these calls for you.

Yes, older patients may prefer the more personalized touch of talking with a live person, but many busy professionals would actually prefer to receive the information in an email or text that they can respond to at their convenience. A recent survey revealed that 85% of the population prefers text, and 82% of baby boomers prefer text notifications. The key is to understand your patient population. Consider their personal preferences, and tailor your messages to reach them.

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