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Data Shows Best Timing for Best Appointment Confirmation Rate

Posted by Lea Chatham on Mar 10, 2020 9:37:39 AM

Are you relying on your gut to tell you when and how to send reminders to patients? Or using some old pre-set schedule from back in the day? The days of guessing about when and how to send reminders are over.

An analysis of patient confirmation responses from approximately 20 million patients uncovered a best practice formula to most effectively remind patients of their appointments via automated messages. There is no reason to make appointment reminders a guessing game anymore. 

There are four types of reminders and any wide variety of timing for them. Let's look at what the data says about the different types and when to send them.

  • At Scheduling: Reminder messages sent to patients immediately after an appointment is scheduled, often six months or more in advance of the appointment.
  • Weekly: Reminder messages sent to patients less than one month but more than seven days before the appointment.
  • Daily: Reminder messages sent to patients less than seven days but more than 24 hours before the appointment.
  • Hourly: Reminder messages sent to patients less than 24 hours before the appointment.

The data shows that the at scheduling message doesn't impact confirmations at all, but the right combination of the other three messages can increase confirmations by 156 percent.

improve patient confirmations

The data also showed that the timing of the messages matters. It revealed that a 3-3-3 strategy was probably the best approach. A reminder sent three weeks ahead had a 79 percent response rate. A message sent three to five days ahead had a 78 percent response rate. And, a last message sent about three hours ahead didn't alter the confirmation rate or have a high response but appeared to help decrease no-shows based on anecdotal evidence.

The high confirmation rates delivered by the recommended weekly and daily timing combine with the patient convenience of a three-hour lead time to make 3-3-3 an ideal reminder strategy. To learn more about why and discover some other food for thought, download the white paper, Three is the Magic Number: Frequency and Timing of an Optimal Reminder Strategy.

Tags: Reminders
Lea Chatham

Written by Lea Chatham

Lea Chatham is the Director of Content Marketing at Solutionreach and the editor of the SR Health blog. She develops educational resources to help healthcare organizations improve patient engagement. Her work has been published in many leading journals including Physicians Practice and Medical Economics and she has presented webinars for industry groups like MGMA.