Are you communicating with patients using the methods they prefer?
Once patient have scheduled an appointment, the challenge for you comes in making sure they follow through and keep those appointment. No-shows and last-minute cancellations can really hurt a practice’s bottom line. Having a communication system in place for confirming appointments is vital to your practice. And it’s important to keep up with the times and contact your patients using the methods they prefer.
Confirmation methods you can use:
- Text Messages – this is most popular way to reach your patients. You should send out appointment confirmation text messages in advance of patient appointments, which gives patients an option to confirm their appointment.it. Then send out a second reminder message the day before (or a few hours before) the appointment.
- Emails – For patients who do not want a text message, you can send appointment reminders by email. Follow the same notification guidelines as with text messages, sending confirmation emails in advance of their appointment, and a reminder closer to their actual appointment.
- Phone calls – When a patient has not confirmed their appointment (either by a returned text message or email) you should to reach out to them for confirmation by phone.
- Reminder postcards – Appointment reminders sent by postcard may be an option available through the communication system you are using, which can eliminate the time-consuming manual process.
No matter which appointment confirmation method you use, it is important to consider the time frame of when you contact patients. You will want to make sure the patient gets the first notification in advance of their appointment so you have enough time to fill that spot with someone else if the patient has to cancel or reschedule their appointment. If you have not received a confirmation back from your patient, you should then be reaching out to them to confirm. Once they have confirmed their appointment, it is also a good idea to send out a reminder shortly before their appointment, whether it be 24 hours before or a couple of hours before their appointment.
Remember, communication with your patients is important, but so is finding the right balance for how and when to send out messages to patients, using methods that your patients prefer.
If you found these ideas helpful, learn more about the Dentrix Profitability Coaching Program, where one of our highly skilled and experienced profitability coaches teaches you and your team these and many other great concepts, strategies and ideas.
By Irma Loftis, Henry Schein One Practice Consultant