Missed appointments can be agonizing to healthcare organizations on a variety of levels. They leave empty slots in your schedule, require extra rescheduling work for staff, and can really take a chunk out of your bottom line. Average no-show rates can range anywhere from 10 to 30 percent depending on your type of practice and nick you in the wallet to the tune of $150,000 to $300,000 annually per provider. That’s some serious road rash.
But you don’t have to settle when it comes to accepting these headache-inducing disruptions as simply a cost of being a care provider. There is a better way. It starts with rethinking your approach to effectively connecting with patients for their appointments. Phone calls are more ineffective than ever while texting is quickly becoming the way society—and your patients—want to interact with you.
At the same time, your appointment workflow doesn’t work because it’s largely broken and your phone or manual system reminders are ineffectual. You have different flows for in-person visits and virtual care visits, and patients are just confused. The remedy is crafting a single patient engagement workflow that works for you rather than against you to more meaningfully interact.
A more functional text-first appointment workflow means that you can touch base with patients throughout their healthcare journey rather than simply at one or two points. From reminders to post-appointment follow-up notifications, every interaction with patients should begin with a text. It not only helps patients keep their appointments, which in the long run will help you recoup not only valuable revenue but also your sanity.
The following are six specific best practices you can use to boost patient interaction and minimize disruptions so that your patients are prepared and on-time for their appointments:
- Automate, automate, automate: Automated reminders are the quickest and most efficient way to help patients keep their appointments while reducing unnecessary staff work. Patients don’t want your calls, they want your texts.
- Synchronize your patient comms: You’ve got to dial in to how each patient wants to be contacted—text, email or voice. Patients will be much more responsive to reminders if you’re on the same frequency.
- Timing is everything: Sending a series of reminders at a proven cadence will drive results when it comes to ratcheting up your confirmation rates.
- How do I do that again?: Send detailed pre-visit instructions for telehealth and in-person visits, e.g., bring medications, complete digital intake, “park and text” info, etc., to make sure visits goes off without a hitch.
- Start the conversation: Do you offer two-way texting? If you don’t, you should. Patients can quickly get answers to questions, reschedule, and more while keeping your staff off the phones.
- Check-in after the checkup: Post-appointment care instructions and follow-up care reminders drive more effective preventive and chronic care adherence and improved outcomes for all patients.
For more information about how these best practices can help you reduce no-shows and improve confirmation rates, check out the SR Health checklist, “6 Appointment Reminder Best Practices to Increase Confirmations and Revenue.”