Tag Archives: Appointment Verifications

10 Top Trends in Field Service

Emerging technologies—mobile, advanced analytics, and more—are making their mark on field service operations. Without a doubt, today’s field organizations have unprecedented opportunities to transform how they do business and deliver better service to customers.

As we move full steam ahead into 2015, what topics are most pressing to field service leaders? A recent survey of 180 organizations from The Service Council’s (TSC) provided essential insight.

Here are ten top-of-mind issues for today’s field service organizations:

  1. Field activity is on the rise: TSC’s survey found that more than half (55%) of respondents noted growing numbers of field visits.
  2. Customers hold equipment longer: A big reason for the jump in field service activity is that customers keep equipment for longer periods. Forty percent (40%) said they saw increased customer service needs tied to this factor.
  3. Many field ops are adequately staffed: About two-thirds of organizations say they can have enough resources meet current rise field service demands. Still, nearly half (47%) had open positions at the close of 2014.
  4. Talent loss is an imminent threat: Although field service workforces are currently stable, many firms expect to lose personnel and ramp up hiring in the next three to five years.
  5. Field service revenue is growing: More than two-thirds (68%) of businesses saw more revenue from field service activity last year. Nearly half (47%) said field service grew more than 10 percent in 2014.
  6. Mobile adoption keeps rising: Not everyone is mobile—yet. In fact, 52 percent of respondents said implementing mobile apps to reduce paperwork is a 2015 priority.
  7. Self-service needs improvement: Forty-seven percent said their customers have no self-service options. That means those customers can schedule or cancel appointments or check on technician status. This is key opportunity for investment.
  8. Real-time video is emerging: Fifty-six percent (56%) are exploring options for real-time video to improve efficiency. One-third of that group expects to adopt video in the near-term
  9. Service costs concern customers: Thirty-one percent (31%) of respondents said customers complain about costs for any services not under contract.
  10. Inventory management is gaining focus: Respondents highlighted parts and inventory management as top execution challenges.

These findings show that field service is in transition. While many see revenues up and staffing as adequate, the coming years will bring inevitable shifts. Field services need to lay the groundwork now for a successful tomorrow.

2015 Focus Areas

In addition to summarizing trends, TSC has also identified key 2015 priorities. Those include: process control and review, talent, execution, IT infrastructure, and call management, dispatch and scheduling.

According to TSC, process control is a consistent priority, but the focus has shifted. Today, more field service organizations are looking for ways to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenues.

Many organizations are looking at processes—such as appointment reservations, dispatches, and post-appointment follow-up—within the field service operation.

Field service organizations are also strategizing now to address impending resource shifts as older workers move into retirement. They are also looking at ways to improve automation to reduce paperwork, support knowledge transfer, and provide customer information and training to field service representatives. Mobility and wearable are two other hot button topics for many field service organizations.

Importantly, many service organizations are recognizing that low-quality call management has negative effects on dispatch and delivered service levels. Organization are realizing that poor contact processes can cause unnecessary or ineffective dispatches. They are looking for ways to improve scheduling—including making it easier for customers to schedule visits and tightening appointment windows.

Better Service, More Profit

The recent TSC survey reinforce findings from a Worldwide Business Research (WBR) study last year. That study of 125 executives found that 70 percent said their companies’ profit from service was equal to or greater than sales. Seventy-nine percent also noted that they have metrics to measure and track customer satisfaction. That is vital since the link between customer experience and revenue is well known.

It is clear that advanced contact management is a key priority for field service ops in 2015. By making appointment scheduling easy, tracking technician status, and shortening appointment windows field service leaders can make dramatic improvements in customer experiences and gain higher profits.

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Engage with Us

Do TSC’s findings ring true for you? Let us know what you see as your top areas of focus for 2015.

  • Are your revitalizing your processes and operations to deliver better customer experiences?
  • How solid are your appointment and contact management functions?
  • Are you gaining more revenues from service visits?

Share your thoughts in the space below. We welcome your insights.

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.