The Benefits of Patient Appointment Reminders
The world is a busy place. Each and every person seems to have more to do each day than there are hours to get it done in. When it comes to running an independent medical practice, this constant overload can have serious consequences.
Independent doctors need to keep their schedules filled if they are to stay financially secure. This sets a hectic pace and leads to stressed doctors and staff. In those situations, it is easy for details to get lost and for schedules to get rearranged.
Patients are also terribly busy people. Factor in the fact that many times doctors’ appointments are scheduled months in advance, and it’s easy to see how a patient could overschedule themselves or simply forget about an appointment.
Ideally, there would be a way that both patients and medical professionals could be reminded about upcoming appointments and quickly updated when schedules change. Thankfully, such a thing exists, and for many medical facilities, appointment reminders can be integrated into their EMR service.
Why Are Missed Appointments So Common?
The sheer number of reasons why people miss appointments rival the number of appointments that get missed. Sometimes, an appointment is missed simply because the time and date of the appointment has been lost or because the patient recorded it as being at the incorrect time or date in their calendar. Sometimes, people know exactly when their next appointment is scheduled, but then forget when the day arrives.
In other cases, a patient may have kept track of the scheduled appointment, but when the day arrives, something else comes up that requires their immediate attention. This could be a sick relative, transportation problems, a work emergency that keeps them at the office, or a home emergency that requires them to find a skilled technician quickly.
Recently, the fear of Covid has sometimes kept people from showing up for their scheduled appointments. Regardless of the reasons, missed appointments add to the stress levels for both the doctor and the patient and should be avoided if at all possible.
How Do Appointment Reminders Help?
Appointment reminders, when delivered in a timely manner, have been shown to decrease the number of missed appointments.
One study, conducted by the Department of Primary Care and Social Medicine at the Imperial College of London, found that timely emails about upcoming appointments reduced the number of no-shows by 38%.
Such a drastic increase in the number of patients who show up at the correct time and date to see the doctor can significantly affect a practice’s revenue stream. With numbers like that, a well-implemented appointment reminder program could pay for itself in very little time.
The concept is really quite simple. Once an appointment is set, the system can be set to send the patient emails and or phone calls to remind them that they have an upcoming appointment. These messages can be sent within various timeframes preceding the appointment: for example, a week before the appointment, three days before, or one day before. The system should allow the practice to set the time frames and number of contacts made to meet their own needs.
Once the parameters have been set, the EMR appointment reminder program will handle all the rest. When the correct amount of time has passed, the program will send appointment reminders to the patients. No more input or thought is required on the part of the doctor or staff.
Why Are Missed Appointments Such a Big Deal?
Doctors, particularly those who run their own, independent practices, must see a certain number of patients per day in order to meet their revenue requirements. For many doctors, this requires tight scheduling and efficient handling of every patient.
While a full schedule may be stressful, empty exam rooms are much more so. Every patient that doesn’t show up at their scheduled time costs the doctor money, sometimes as much as hundreds of dollars per incident. The doctor still has to pay their bills, their staff, and any other overhead, regardless of whether their patients show up for their appointments or not.
For many years, the standard practice was to overbook appointments to try to lessen the damage done by patients who did not show up. Although this did help to ease the financial pain of no-shows, it frequently increased the stress levels of both the doctors and the patients on days when every patient showed up at the time they were supposed to.
Appointment reminders were developed, in part, as a way to increase the number of patients who showed up without the burden of overscheduling. At first, cards were mailed, and staff members would make phone calls themselves to remind patients about their appointments. These methods did indeed help to control the loss of revenue due to no-shows, but they cost the practice money in postage and time spent.
Automatic reminders that have been set up and sent through an EMR system is a much better way to go. It saves money and frees up the office staff to do other, more specialized work.
Integrated Appointment Reminder Program – Just One of the Advantages of TRIARQ’s EMR
TRIARQ Health is a management services organization that has devoted its resources to helping independent doctors survive and thrive in the healthcare industry. They understand the needs of an independent practice, and their margin for error is incredibly small.
To help independent medical practices keep their exam rooms filled, TRIARQ Health created our QSuite EMR. This cloud-based EMR has a built-in appointment scheduler that links directly to the appointment reminder program. With this technology, it is possible to set an appointment and schedule appointment reminders in a matter of minutes.
The staff member who scheduled the appointment and set the appointment reminders can now go on with the rest of their day without giving it another thought, confident that the system will make contact and increase the chances of that time slot being filled by the appropriate patient.
To find out more about how we can help with appointment reminders or about any other healthcare-specific IT needs, please contact us at TRIARQ Health today.