Medical providers across the globe face a daily frustration – patient no-shows. What makes matters worse is the fact that when a patient doesn’t show up for an appointment, the practice loses money. One no show a day can equate to an average loss of revenue of over $2,100 per month or $26,000 per year based upon a $100 loss in revenue per day. There is, however, a solution to help combat no-show rates. That solution involves a telephone call.
We all have busy lives. The same is true for your patients. It can be sometimes be difficult to remember an appointment that was scheduled a week ago, much less a year ago. That is why it is important to make use of the telephone to call patients and confirm their appointment.
According to a study completed by the American Journal of Medicine, 23.1% of patients who received no reminder call missed their appointments. The problem that many practices have, however, is finding the time and staff to make these calls each day. To resolve this problem, many practices then turn to automated appointment reminder systems for contacting patients about their upcoming appointment. When using such services, no-show rates dropped from 23.1% to 17.3%. Compare this to the no-show rates of when a live person made the call (13.6%), and you can see why it is important, if possible, for practices to find the time to make the calls themselves.
In the grand scheme of things, however, patient reminder calls can get pushed to the bottom of a long list of to-do’s on a busy day. The benefit of using automated reminders is that you can ensure your patients will be called. The downside is that the call is not personal. My preference is to hear a live person, even if it is on my voice-mail, reminding me of an upcoming appointment. Is the fact of whether or not the person calling was live or automated going to cause me to change providers? Absolutely not.
Automated or not, most patients appreciate the call. One study found that 78% of patients who received a call from a staff member said it helped them remember their appointment. Only slightly less, 72% of patients who received an automated reminder call found it to be helpful.
The moral of the story is, make reminder calls in any way you can. Automated calls cost an average of 20 cents per call. If the only way you are going to be able to get the patients called is by having an employee stay late, choose automation. You can also consider using text messages or emails as patient reminders. However, before getting started with either it is important to ask your patients which method they prefer.
Patient reminder calls provide that extra personal touch. It is important to take advantage of each opportunity you have in an effort to positively interact with patients. By taking the time to remind patients of their appointment, you show them that they are important to your practice. This improves patient satisfaction and loyalty.