Health care professionals are continually challenged to provide more affordable, effective and accessible services while operating in an environment of rapid change and complexity. When patients regularly fail to attend appointments that can impact their productivity and practice revenue.
In order to compete and thrive, savvy Practices harness the power that technology delivers to remind patients of their appointments and when preventative health treatments are due. Most Practice Management Systems provide features that will help to reduce no-shows and increase patient bookings without much effort.
In the USA it is estimated that between 23% and 34% of medical appoints are missed annually. While there is no data available in New Zealand, there is no doubt that ‘no shows’ continue to be an issue for many practices.
Reducing ‘no shows’
Patient Reminders are used in many practices to reduce the number of ‘no-show’ patients, and the results are impressive. Medtech32 and Evolution both provide SMS or email reminders and by leveraging this technology you will have a positive impact on resource utilisation.
Patient health can be impacted also, as missing appointments as they don’t receive the health care they need.
The format of reminders that a practice uses may impact their success however, some patients prefer a phone call while others are happy to receive an SMS, either way using some type of reminder will reduce the number of missed appointments. Automated reminders are more efficient and cost effective as no human intervention is required.
Follow-up missed appointment
When a patient does fail to attend an appointment, it’s a good idea to put in place a “sorry you missed your appointment” message that contains a link to re-book the appointment (if you have online appointment bookings). It’s probably not a good idea to send this message to patients that continually miss appointments though.
Increase revenue with reminders
Using reminders for things like flu shots, cervical screening, annual check-ups as well as children’s vaccinations has been shown to be an effective way to increase patient bookings and provide patients with preventative care.
Your PMS will allow you to run a report and produce a list of clients that are due for certain treatments/services and then send a standard email or SMS reminder. The message can even contain a link to the on-line booking system which allows patients to make their booking when it’s convenient to them. Some practices send these reminders in a printed letter, but the increasing costs of postage along with the manual effort required make them less appealing.
Managing chronic conditions
Using reminders is also a proactive approach to managing patients with chronic conditions. A study conducted by the Australian Journal of General Practice* suggests that patient-directed reminders have the potential to have a positive impact on preventative care activities for patients with diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes. They found that reminders appeared to improve the performance of relatively short, simple checks such as measuring blood pressure, weight and waist circumference. These may be the kinds of checks that are usually forgotten but are simple to perform and may extend the duration of a normal consultation if left.
There are several ways Practice Managers can use technology to expand their service levels and increase patient engagement. We hope this article has provided you with some inspiration, we’d love to hear your ideas however, simply click here to contact us and share your thoughts.
If you would like to know more about modules to assist your Practice with patient reminders then please click here.
* Volume 47, No. 6, June 2018. Patient-directed reminders to improve preventive care in general practice for patients with type 2 diabetes: A proof of concept