What to look for in a Patient Appointment Reminder Vendor
Unlimited Messaging / Flat Cost
Cost-per-message pricing adds another thing to manage and discourages following best practices around multi-modality.
Multi-Modality: Voice, Email and Text
Text is by far the most effective communication method when compared to voice and email. Only 20% of emails are opened, but 98% of texts get read. That doesn’t mean to abandon all other modalities. Think about how you communicate with your friends, family and co-workers. Most people mix and match communication modalities in their conversations. It works for businesses, too. Best practice is to start with all three methods.
Patient Preference Learning
Following the last point, don’t just ask patients for their contact preference. Learn it. If a patient consistently responds to one method over the other, your appointment reminder solution should have the ability to learn those preferences and apply them. Again, this learning comes naturally to most people but for some reason, most vendors don’t think this way.
The most effective vendors ask a patient to confirm their appointment. MGMA member Jeffrey Rydburg, CMPE, shared his experience:
You should get confirmation from the patient, not just give them a reminder. “If we don’t have contact information for a patient and don’t try to contact them, our no-show rate is more than 10%. If we remind them of the appointment, the no-show rate drops to about 6%,” says Rydburg. “However, if we ask them to confirm the appointment (touchtone, click, etc.), the no-show rate drops to less than 3%. The point is don’t just remind, confirm. It creates a psychological agreement between the patient and the practice.”
One of the top reasons for patient no-shows is that they meant to reschedule and didn’t. All messages should make it easy – really easy – for your patients to reschedule.
Automatic No-Show Outreach
When a patient doesn’t show up, your appointment reminder system should automatically reach out to reschedule so that you and other staff don’t waste time trying to reconnect.
With more and more patient messages being initiated as a result of value-based care, population health and mobile payments, providers are discovering that they are being held to the same consumer messaging laws as consumer companies. TCPA limits the amount and frequency of messaging to consumers. Most appointment reminder solutions have no insight into what other patient messaging is happening, which can cause uncoordinated messaging and fines. Look for a vendor that can handle all patient outreach and knows the TCPA laws.