We have found that our No-Show rate dramatically decreases when we call patients to remind them of their appointments. When we have large gaps in our schedule we are more likely to be able to do this. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we have been finding less and less time to be on the phone for 1-2 hours per day confirming appointments.
I found a solution! Good friends have been recently talking about automated patient messaging systems. These are companies that tie into your practice management and automatically call your patients. They can be quite pricey, upwards of $300/month; but often they have many bells and whistles. Not only can you set the system to remind patients of upcoming appointments but you can also send out recall notices; you can try to reactivate lost patients; and you can send birthday greetings. Some even have a way to notify patients of their laboratory results. All of this information made me want to inquire with our practice management vendor. Eureka!
Our solution is much more affordable, simple and seamless because it is available through our practice management software. I can monitor when patients confirm and cancel just by looking at the schedule on any office computer. We plan to have messages go out 3 days before appointments by cell phone. However, I can customize contact information per patient. If somebody prefers text messages, we can do it. If somebody prefers us using their home phone number, we can do it.
We have customized our message to include many options. New patients will be reminded to bring photo ID, insurance card(s) and a list of medications. They have the option of listening to directions to the office and/or our address and phone number. It will notify our current patients of any balance due. Patients can also leave a message for us.
I have expressed my desire for Akamai PM to add recall reminders and reactivating patients lost to follow-up. Birthday wishes would also be a nice personal touch. But this message system is relatively new and I must be patient. In the meantime I hope to have more time to concentrate on the business side of my job. My office is one heaping mess. And if you knew me well, you’d know that it is driving me crazy! Here’s to a smoothly operating practice, a clutter-free office, and peace to all!