Many patients do not respond to appointment reminders. Some just don't take the time to take a look at correspondence from their healthcare provider. But when or how a patient receives an appointment reminder can affect their response to reminder confirmations. These confirmations help you plan your schedule, reduce no-shows, and keep waitlisted patients happy.
While it is true that a patient may turn up for their appointment without responding to reminder confirmations, you have no guarantee that they will. However, you may significantly cut down on the number of patients not showing up by sending these out. This is because the vast majority of people who do not attend their appointments have forgotten about them.
Reminder confirmations become a helpful tool in reminding patients about their appointments. But they also allow for cancellations or rescheduling appointments. This means that patients on your waiting list are able to be seen sooner. It also means that you do not end up with open appointment spaces in your calendar where you could have seen other patients.
Making use of the services of a medical virtual assistant can prove of great benefit to your practice. A dedicated person in charge of handling appointments, appointment reminders, and reminder confirmations can provide you with an up-to-date calendar each day. Furthermore, using technology allows them to seamlessly slot into your practice’s daily running. They can manage the various types of appointment reminders and reminder confirmations you employ while slotting in patients on your waiting list when another patient reschedules or cancels their appointment.
Your medical virtual assistant can increase your number of appointment confirmations in many ways.
People do not stay in the same location, have the same telephone number, or work for the same business forever. Their circumstances change. So does their personal contact information. So, when making an appointment, it is necessary to make sure that no relevant information has changed and to update the system to show any changes. Doing so increases your chances of contacting patients and getting a reply.
Once a patient has made an appointment, you need to send out a confirmation that they did so. Before the advent of newer technology, most appointments were made by a patient coming into the practice or by phone. They would typically receive a card with the date and time of their next consultation.
These days, however, many patients make their appointments online. This technology allows them to receive a text message reminder, to which they can respond affirmatively with the click of a button.
You can also send out emails. Emails can include more information about an appointment. In addition to the date and time of an appointment, they can include other information like forms or preparations that patients need to do beforehand if necessary. You may also wish to add instructions about what a patient should wear if they needed a procedure done. Your email may also set out your practice’s cancellation policy if you have one, and what they need to do if they want to reschedule or cancel.
A lot can change in a patient’s personal life between the time they make an appointment and the day they need to attend. Sometimes a doctor’s appointment slips their mind. Sending out reminder confirmations a week in advance can allow them to let you know if they need to reschedule or cancel their appointments. You can send out an automated call, email, or text message for this purpose. Whichever form of communication you use, remember to give patients various options when replying. These communications need to include the date, time, and address of the appointment as well as any instructions if needed.
Sending out different types of reminders at the right times could also help increase responses. For example, someone working in an office and who sits behind a desk is much more likely to check emails and confirm their appointment. On the other hand, someone who works in the field doing more physical work may not check emails regularly. Someone who is driving may check their text messages but forget to respond immediately.
This last reminder is probably the most important of all your reminders, especially if a patient has not yet responded. In this scenario, your message needs to have a sense of urgency and gives you a last chance of confirming the appointment.
Even if a patient has a valid reason for not being able to keep the appointment, your practice should try to avoid an outright cancellation. Instead, you should encourage patients to postpone their appointment to a more convenient date and time. Also, you do not want a patient to cancel at the last minute because it decreases your chances of filling in the empty slot with another patient seeking your expertise.
So, rather than giving them the option to cancel outright, allow them to reschedule their appointment. They can either call the person handling appointments directly or request a callback, for example.
Having a clear cancellation policy in place can significantly help reduce your number of no-shows and cancellations. It may also help reduce the number of gaps in your daily schedule. To make sure that your patients take note of this policy, you should ensure that new patients are told about it and that they sign a form that clearly states the terms of this policy when filling out the usual forms given to new patients.
A cancellation policy usually allows patients to cancel appointments but asks for a fee when they do so at the last minute. Many patients refrain from canceling at the last minute when they know there is a fee involved. They would rather cancel or reschedule well in advance.
Employing a cancellation policy at least covers the costs of a no-show to some small extent. It encourages patients to cancel or reschedule in advance, so you can slot someone else into that place.
While your reminder confirmations should have the relevant information regarding the appointment such as date, time, and reason for visit, you could add other information that motivates your patient to attend the consultation. This information should remind your patient about the reason for their appointment. Information on how to improve heart health, for example, may prove useful to someone suffering from high blood pressure or heart disease.
Keeping track of appointments and sending out reminder confirmations can become complicated, especially in an in-house practice setting. Having one person solely responsible for this task is difficult, as most people working in a practice could be called on to take on other responsibilities at the drop of a hat.
Making use of the services of a virtual medical assistant from Cool Blue VA takes this responsibility off the shoulders of someone working in your practice, leaving them free to concentrate on other tasks. Your virtual assistant can, by making use of technology, seamlessly become a part of your practice’s daily workflow without causing any disruptions.
These focused individuals can send out detailed reminders specially formulated for each of your patients. They can also keep track of confirmations and keep your calendar up to date, contacting people on your waiting list and slotting them into any open spaces. Furthermore, they can also interact with patients wishing to reschedule their appointments to a more convenient date and time.
If interested in learning more about how reminder confirmations can help your practice thrive or if you would like to know more about hiring one of our dedicated virtual assistants, please call Cool Blue VA today. Our contact number is 714-695-8000. We will help you find the perfect medical virtual assistant.