How Does an Appointment Reminder Message Increase Office Efficiency?
You run a health system, a multi-specialty practice or are a single-specialty healthcare provider. Juggling the tasks entailed every day is hard. The pace is fast, and your schedule is always changing.
Despite the stress, you know two basic principles apply:
Ensuring patients get access to healthcare is essential. It is the most important mission for any healthcare operation.
An efficient appointment book improves patient satisfaction and efficiency. Patients who get an appointment reminder message are more likely to arrive on time.
Streamlining your appointment management system allows you to maximize available consultation time. It also results in shorter wait times for new patients and referrals.
Automated reminders that integrate with a practice management system make patient access easier. Patient access is central to the success of the health system as a whole. It also benefits the well-being of your organization and reinforces healthcare best practices.
Patient appointment management is one area that has enormous potential. Enhancements here have downstream benefits and a positive impact on office efficiency.
Improve the performance of your organization. Get the results you wish for. Read on to find out how effective automated appointment management can be.
Before discussing the benefits in more detail, let’s consider software. You will need software that integrates with your current patient management (PM) system. Once that’s done, you can offer patients a free appointment reminder service.
It is important to mention integration since many providers avoid automated appointment systems. They think it involves considerable financial outlay, and this need not be the case.
Features of the Appointment Reminder Message System
Systems with automated reminder messages mean big efficiency gains in your organization.
Our Definitive Guides & eBooks show the elements that make up a reminder system. Note how they interact to achieve better patient access. They also bring related advantages to your organization.
Most systems suggest that you begin by categorizing appointment types. This first step will form the basis of your reminder message system, so some careful thought needs to go into it
Categorizing your appointment types is central to the automated appointment management system. It makes it easier to fine-tune how much time you need to give to each appointment. It also makes rescheduling easier and less stressful for your staff.
The number of appointment types should be reasonable. They should be neither too generic nor too specific.
Appointment types help optimize revenue. You can give priority to new patient appointments while coordinating short-duration appointments. The net effect is that you fill as many of those blank spaces in your schedule as possible.
Assign an appointment type to each patient’s appointment. This reduces patient wait and patient no-shows. Billing also becomes more accurate and easier to manage.
Most providers like to see a certain type of patient during a certain part of the day. Assigning appointment types creates indirect efficiencies that the providers themselves feel. Well defined appointment type parameters make onboarding new staff much quicker too.
Patient Access and Interaction
Our research has shown that even senior citizens are comfortable with handling automated SMS or text messages. Research has shown that most people will read an SMS within 90 seconds of having received it. In essence, it is the best-known, most efficient method of contacting your patients.
Patients make an appointment via an online booking solution, at the office or via phone. The system sends a notification of the appointment to the patient’s phone. This makes the next step in the process easy.
Logging the appointment is less time-consuming than before. The staff no longer has to deal with the old manual method of calling or texting in person to give reminders.
Patients enjoy your efficiency and welcome the receipt of a timely reminder.
Organizations that have implemented appointment reminder messaging report a sharp reduction in no-shows.
An Actionable Appointment Reminder Message
Actionable reminders allow your patients direct communication with you. They communicate via the reminder text by giving a series of either/or answers.
You gain more patients — and more revenue — through appointment reminder messages. So, you can offer this service free of charge to your patients. It requires no extra input from your support staff and patients of all ages welcome it.
Options for cancellations and/or rescheduling also exist. They reduce the number of sudden loss-making gaps created in your schedule. Patient access improves by filling those gaps in providers’ schedules. Greater efficiency means as many hours on the schedule are billed.
Rescheduling Existing Appointments
Rescheduling is one feature that patients have reported appreciating very much. If there is a cancellation, the reminder service contacts the patient with the next confirmed appointment on that day. It finds out whether the patient would like to have an earlier appointment either that day or a couple of days earlier.
Filling existing gaps in the schedule frees up blocks of time at the end of the patient queue. And you have one more happy patient.
Patient wait is one of the leading causes of poor patient access to healthcare. Rescheduling the most effective way to reduce patient wait. With shorter patient wait times, the revenue of your healthcare organization will increase.
Rescheduling is one way to accommodate wait-listed patients who need more urgent treatment. Widespread use of such systems by healthcare providers would result in a healthier general population. All because of a simple appointment reminder message.
Providers cannot always fulfill their commitment to the appointment book. Rescheduling is useful when the unexpected occurs. These schedule changes are known as bumps.
An automated appointment reminder system then sends patients messages giving them the option to:
- see another provider,
- accept an earlier appointment, or
- accept an appointment as close to the original appointment as possible.
Re-booking no-shows works on a similar basis to bumps. It is stress-free because it is automatic.
Ultimately, automated schedule management is flexible and useful for both patient and provider alike.
A simple appointment reminder message to each patient means you can give your patients earlier access to healthcare. You can offer an earlier appointment with another provider who might be less busy.
Balancing the schedules of all the providers has indirect benefits. All providers get a sense that they are part of a team, and that’s a healthy outcome in itself.
Because the system is automated, all appointment data can be recorded and reported.
You can use the reports to manage your office better. You can make informed staffing decisions and be more efficient in meeting patient demand.
Reporting tools help you understand the scheduling trends at your organization better. You can objectively analyze your organization’s performance. Spotting areas for further improvement has a direct bearing on providing better patient access.
Healthcare Best Practice
In one exercise, we scrutinized patient reviews to find where the bottlenecks were in the healthcare sector.
The reviews showed that poor schedule management led to poor patient management and poor patient access. Streamlining the appointment system, with the appointment reminder message at its core, seemed to be the solution.
The best results come from the seamless management of patients’ appointments from the time they book to the time they see the doctor.
The dual benefits are:
- improved patient access to healthcare, and
- increased efficiencies and revenue for healthcare providers.
It is as simple as that!
Achieve Meaningful Results
Long lists of wait-listed patients, high percentages of no-shows, and annoying gaps in your schedule can be a thing of the past. So too can stressed-out support staff, and problems with inaccurate billing or, worse still, falling revenue.
By focusing on the simple appointment reminder message, you can improve patient access to your providers and as a result reap the benefits of steady and improved revenue from more efficient appointment management.
Thousands of healthcare providers of every specialty and size are already convinced. They have already adopted appointment reminder message systems and swear by the positive implications for patients and medical providers alike.Want to automate your appointment reminder messages?
Request a demo of QueueDr today to start saving time and money with our powerful schedule management software.