Tag Archives: Appointment Reminders

Appointment reminders can cut patient no-shows

Reversing the Patient No-Show Trend

Healthcare is an expensive business. One preventable factor that often drives up costs for physicians and patients alike is appointment no-shows.

According to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), the average practice experiences a 5-7% patient no-show rate. This can translate to thousands to millions of dollars of lost annual revenue—depending on the size of the practice.

If you manage a medical practice, you need to take steps to cut your no-show rate and stop unnecessary revenue drain. There are several proven ways you can reverse your missed appointment trend.

1. Automate Appointment Reminders

A key study published in the American Journal of Medicine (AJOM) validated that automated appointment reminder phone calls can sharply cut a practice’s patient no-show rate. In the study, the no-show rate for patients who received no pre-appointment reminder was 23.1%. Placing an automated reminder call three days before the scheduled visit dropped the patient no-show rate to 17.3%.

2. Use Same-Day Appointment Reminders

Although the AJOM study confirmed the benefit of automated reminders, the resulting patient no-show rate was still extremely high. That could be because the three-day pre-apointment notification was too far in advance. One way to shrink your no-show rate even further is to institute same-day reminders to connect with patients on the day of their appointments. You can choose to confirm with everyone on the day’s schedule or just reach out to those with whom you have not made contact.

3. Institute a Confirm or Auto-Reschedule Policy

Some practices may find benefit in requiring appointment confirmations from customers. If you go this route, you may also implement an automatic reschedule policy if you have not heard from patients within a specified time window before the appointment. While this may not work for every appointment, this approach may have value for appointments for certain lengthy procedures which can book up significant time on a physician’s schedule.

4. Adopt a Multi-Channel Approach

Reaching out to patients via phone has long been an industry standard practice. However, the proliferation of new communications options has motivated many practices to explore a multi-channel approach. This aligns well with emerging patient preferences. In one patient poll, 65% of respondents indicated that they would like to receive appointment reminders via email. That study also revealed that patients would appreciate proactive notifications via email and text to schedule preventative care appointments.

Other studies have validated that using text can benefit more than just your daily appointment schedule. Using texts can improve appointment adherence. They can also can help patients with chronic conditions—such as HIV/AIDS or diabetes—keep up with medication and treatment regimens.

5. Collect and Use Patient Communications Preferences

If you adopt multi-channel contact, you should ask patients their preferred method to receive communications from your practice—phone, text, or email. You also be sure to follow their preferences as often as possible. This shows that you value their time and input. However, if you are facing a potential missed appointment or have another critical need to contact a patient, you can use other channels to make contact in an effective way—especially if prior contact attempts via preferred channels have failed.

6. Know Your Patients’ Contact History and Patterns

The right technology can do more than just send out generic appointment reminders to patients. It can also keep track of contact attempts and whether or not they were successful in engaging patients. Building on this data, smart technology solutions can understand best times to reach out to increase the likelihood of contact.

7. Understand Which Patients are More Likely to Miss Appointments

Studies conducted across multiple medical specialties have revealed that certain categories of patients are more likely to miss appointments. Those groups include:

  • Patients who are younger than 35 years of age
  • Patients with an outstanding account balance with your practice
  • Patients who have a scheduled routine, annual exam, or non-urgent visit
  • Patients of low socioeconomic status

In addition, studies have also revealed that patient no-show rates tend to spike during the first and last weeks of each month. Patient cash-flow issues could be the root cause of this issue.

By knowing which types of patients have the greatest no-show risk, you can tailor communications and reminder practices to reach these patients.

Lowering Patient No-Shows with Appointment Reminders

Adopting a proactive, multi-channel appointment reminder strategy is an imperative for any medical practice wishing to cut costs and improve its bottom line. While other alternatives—such as patient no-show fees, double booking, or terminating patients from the practice—do exist, these can be cumbersome to administer and decrease your practice’s positive perception and goodwill in your community.

Smart medical practitioners are recognizing the strategic and economic value of high-quality appointment reminders.

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Engage with Us

If you are in the business of healthcare, we would value your thoughts on this important industry topic. Respond to one of our questions or offer your own thoughts in the space below:

  • Does your practice experience a higher or lower no-show rate than the 5-7% industry standard noted by MGMA?
  • What approaches do you use to handle patient no-shows?
  • How do you issue pre-appointment reminders to patients?

We look forward to your input.

Field service

Field Service Customers Have High Expectations

Field service has tremendous power to make or break customer experiences. Organizations with field service components need insight on large-scale trends and shifts in customer needs and perceptions.

Emerging information from The Service Council (TSC) field service research study is a must-read for any service-centric brand interested in improving customer experiences. As of this writing, TSC is still taking survey input from organizations with in-house or outsourced field service groups.

Top Areas of Complaint by Field Service Customers

As customer demands for higher levels of service grows, field service teams must take heed of their customers’ top pain points. A significant number of customers—up to 90% in one recent year—switch brand loyalties after a poor service experience. That means field service operations need strategies to address emerging customer dissatisfaction issues.

1.  First Visit Issue Resolution

Traditionally, first-time fix has been a chief interest and area of complaint for field service customers. This is consistent with cross-industry research from Accenture. The consulting firm’s 2013 Global Consumer Pulse Research Study revealed that 72% of consumers who switched brand preferences would stay loyal to a brand who resolved their concerns on the first attempt.

Failure to resolve issues on the first visit is emerging as the #1 source of complaint in TSC’s 2014 survey. However, in prior years’ research, lack of first time fix has outpaced other customer dissatisfaction causes by a wide margin. Not so in 2014.

Does this mean service providers are getting better at first-visit issue resolution? No. This year’s first-time fix rate is consistent with last years. However, more customers are seeing success via self-service channels, which eliminates needs for on-site technician dispatches.

2. Service Visit Experience

Today’s customers desire more control over their experiences when a field service rep visits. This is reflected in several of their other top areas of concern. TSC’s findings show that nearly 1/3 of respondents said their customer complaints tie to concerns that the wait for an appointment was too long. Another 25% of respondents indicated that complaints arise from customers’ perceptions that they lack visibility into agent status. The length of appointment windows is another area provoking concern—with 22% of respondents noting complaints tied to this factor.

3. Service Costs

As TSC reports, the cost of service is becoming a key area of concern for customers. Approximately 30% of survey respondents noted that customers had registered cost complaints. According to TSC, many customer complaints arise from non-contract service and repair charges. Customers may perceive that they are not receiving value above and beyond standard service visits, yet are being asked to pay more. They may also question why their service provider is instituting cost-saving practices and not passing savings along to the customer.

Taking Charge of the Field Service Experience

Today’s field service operations have an unprecedented opportunity to use technology to take control of the customer experience. Effective, integrated customer contact strategies can empower your company to achieve shortening appointment windows and give customers greater insight into appointment statuses.

A key first step to tightening appointment windows is tying your contact management solution to your workforce management system. This allows you to provide real-time updates on customer statuses to your technicians in the field. If you can’t reach a customer or if a customer needs to cancel at the last minute, you can convey this information to your field service rep and allow him or her to move to the next pending appointment.

Another effective practice field service leaders employ is day-of-job customer contact. One-way appointment reminders 24 to 48 hours in advance are often not adequate for organizations which need to make dynamic adjustments to their daily dispatch schedule. You can institute day-of-job contacts to connect with every customer or just those who have not yet confirmed their appointments.

Service leaders also often implement automatic cancellations for unconfirmed customers. With this approach, you can issue a series of communications alerting your customers that their appointments will automatically cancel if they do not contact you to confirm. In addition, you can give your customers flexibility to self-cancel and reschedule. This lets you cut back on wasted trips an eliminate visits to customers who do not require service.

Opportunities for Innovation

As your customers rely on mobile devices as their key information portals, you can innovate communications approaches with your customers on-the-go. You can send them day-of-job confirmation notices and alerts about their pending appointments to give them the empowered customer experiences they expect. As an added benefit, you can manage your field service techs more effectively an dispatch with precision.

With the right technologies and smart contact strategies, you can address some of the chief sources of customer dissatisfaction and emerge as a field service leader in your industry.

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Engage with Us

If your organization has a field service component, we would love to learn more about your experiences

  • Are your customer concerns consistent with the current TSC findings?
  • What steps have you taking to address customer experiences?
  • What emerging innovations do you see as game-changers in field service?

We look forward to hearing from you. Share your thoughts below.