Many practices make patient appointments well in advance, for things like annual checkups, follow-up appointments, or due to a busy schedule. But the further away these appointments are, the more likely it is that patients will forget them. This can lead to no-shows, gaps in your schedule, and lost income. This is where patient reminders come in handy. Not only do they help ensure that patients will attend appointments, but they also give patients the opportunity to call in if they cannot make it. This allows you to fill in another patient during this time.
A patient reminder refers to either an automated text message, an email, or a phone call that reminds a patient of an appointment. Patient reminders ask your patients to confirm their availability for the due time and date, and give them the option of rescheduling. If patients do reschedule, staff may also be required to call patients on a waitlist to find someone able to fill the available slot.
While many healthcare practices leave this service in the hands of their front-office staff, many, increasingly, make use of a virtual healthcare assistant to do so.
When a virtual medical assistant takes over your practice’s patient reminder task, it frees up your in-house staff to do other tasks while, at the same time, ensuring the smooth running of your practice at large.
A virtual medical assistant does not take up any space in your practice’s offices. Rather, they work from a remote location. Yet they are a valuable addition to the smooth running of your practice. They can connect to your servers using up-to-date technology and perform a series of tasks that take up a lot of time – time your in-house staff can use to pursue other tasks.
By making use of your patient calendar, your virtual assistant can send off patient reminders to your patients via text message, email, or via telephone. Each message, tailored to specific patients' needs, is a far cry from the generic patient reminders sent off by an automated system.
Your virtual hire can also, upon receiving a response from a patient, take immediate action to either confirm, cancel, or reschedule an appointment that fits your patient’s schedule. They can also contact patients on your practice’s waiting list and try and slot them in the space left open in the event of a cancelation.
Having a virtual hire take on the task of handling patient reminders poses many benefits for your practice.
In-house staff, whether working at a private practice or in a clinical setting, often deal with a lot of stress. Adding the task of ensuring the expedient sending out of patient reminders while having to deal with their normal workload can increase their stress. Someone manning your front office usually has to deal with patient reminders. They may find themselves spending hours on the telephone each day contacting patients to confirm appointments.
A virtual medical assistant, making use of the latest technology, can easily take on this task. Making use of an automated system, they can schedule tailor-made texts or emails to be sent to patients on time. They can also do follow-up calls if necessary, and reschedule appointments when needed. Furthermore, these professionals can also go into your waiting list and make calls to slot another patient into the appointment time. This helps promote a smooth-running practice with fewer stressed staff and more satisfied patients.
Making use of a virtual medical assistant to take care of the various aspects associated with patient reminders frees up your phone lines. This means that lines are open for incoming calls from both patients and other sources.
Many healthcare practices have a problem with patients not showing up for their appointments. Sometimes people forget about their doctor’s appointments, or life gets in the way due to unforeseen commitments cropping up. Just like you, your patients also lead busy lives. These things happen.
Having someone dedicated to the task of sending out patient reminders can significantly reduce your practice’s no-show rate. Not only will it remind patients of the date and time of an appointment, but also allow them to let you know they cannot make it. Your virtual hire can then either cancel the appointment or reschedule it.
People, in general, do not like bouncing around from one doctor to another. They prefer seeing one specific person for their healthcare issues because of the trust built up over time. As a result, you may find that your practice has people scheduling appointments weeks or months away, even though they would like to see you, the healthcare provider, sooner. These people, put on waiting lists, can easily be contacted and asked whether they would like an earlier appointment when someone else cancels. Not only does this clear the waiting list, but it improves the satisfaction of patients. As a healthcare provider, your day no longer has gaps in your consultation time, reducing lost income.
Did you know that there are ‘best times’ to deal with patient reminders? According to studies, the best time to do so is around four in the afternoon. Other good times are between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and shortly after 5 p.m. There could be many reasons for this.
People who work may not be in a position to answer personal calls during their working hours. Contacting them after 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. thus results in better engagement. Also, people working from home, stay-at-home parents, or the elderly, may prefer to engage earlier in the day. Knowing your patients and ensuring their information stays up to date thus helps to improve communication when sending out patient reminders.
Your patients see you for a reason. They either feel ill or have a health condition that needs medical attention. In other words, you, as a healthcare provider, deal with stressed people.
Having someone who specifically deals with patient reminders makes patients feel you care. Furthermore, it also allows them the opportunity to reschedule their appointment if needed. And as a bonus, they know that, in the event of someone canceling, they could be slotted in to see you earlier. That personal touch promotes patient satisfaction and loyalty.
There are many ways to write out patient reminders. The best, however, is one that is personal and concise. Your patients want to feel they matter! Furthermore, no matter what type of patient reminder is sent, it has to be HIPAA compliant. This includes, of course, not only text messages, but emails and telephone conversations as well.
The virtual medical assistants at Cool Blue VA have all undergone HIPAA training and are well-versed in communicating with patients via text message, emails, or the telephone. Furthermore, their background allows them to be easily trained with any technology used in your practice. This means they can not only send out patient reminders but quickly access your schedule and make any changes as and when needed.
If you would like to know more about how Cool Blue VA can help you with patient reminders or the high-quality virtual medical assistant services we offer to those in the healthcare industry, please contact us today at 714-695-8000.