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How does Text Messaging Reduce Patient No-shows?

Text appointment reminders provide healthcare organizations with an effective, scalable strategy for reducing patient no-shows and reaching patients of all demographics and geographic locations with information to assist patients in remembering their appointments, confirming their plans to attend, canceling, or requesting a reschedule. These simple tasks have been shown to assist hospitals, health systems, and large medical groups in lowering patient no-show rates, reclaiming lost revenue, improving patient adherence to follow-up and preventive care, maintaining a proper online appointment booking system, and resulting in healthier outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.

Why Should You Use a Text Appointment Reminder Service?

Years ago, automated text appointment reminders appeared on the scene, promising to solve the no-show problem and improve medical office efficiency. While organizations that have implemented automated appointment reminders have seen measurable improvements, many are still dealing with frustrations related to patient no-shows and are compensating with resource-intensive processes that are manual, unscalable, and fail to deliver the desired results. This article will explain why this is the case and how patient-centered engagement, specifically text reminders, can deliver higher ROI and long-term, sustainable results. So, why text over other modes of communication?

Text messages are read.

The average American checks his or her phone 96 times per day, a 20% increase from data collected two years ago. Text reminders offer the best chance of being seen for healthcare leaders looking for the best strategies to reduce patient no-shows. Because patients rarely answer phone calls these days, text reminders are even more important for capturing their attention and eliciting a response.

Text messages are convenient.

Text reminders provide patients with both privacy and convenience because they allow them to quickly view a message from their phone without interrupting a current conversation or excuse themselves to take a phone call. It’s not just viewing a text message that’s quick; patients can also respond quickly to a text reminder, increasing the likelihood that a patient will keep their scheduled appointment or notify the medical office if anything has changed.

Text messages are entertaining.

Text reminders, when used correctly, can convey tone and personalization that first-generation solutions, such as using automated voice calls alone, cannot. Medical providers used text messages across the country COVID-19 to keep patients updated and informed as processes and procedures changed almost daily. Providers and their staff needed to quickly communicate to large groups of patients how and when to arrive for an appointment, whether a support person was allowed to accompany a patient, whether a face covering or mask was required, how to access Telehealth appointments, and other information. Reminder texts were used to welcome patients back to the office, educate them about what to expect, and reassure them that telemedicine was still available to those who needed or preferred it as the COVID-19 crisis phase ended and medical practices reopened.

Text messages are ubiquitous.

Text messaging is used by people all over the world; even in places where cable and television are not available, people communicate using mobile devices. In the United States, where 99.7% of the population lives in areas covered by 4G LTE, text messaging is the preferred form of communication for consumers and patients young, old, wealthy, poor, urban, rural, and across countless other demographic and geographic variables.

When to Enroll Patients in Text Message Appointment Reminders

The patient journey provides numerous opportunities to enroll patients in text reminders, and as the patient journey becomes more digital, this task can be automated and integrated into strategies such as online scheduling and electronic registration.

During the scheduling process

The process of scheduling a patient’s appointment, whether through a call center or over the phone and at the front desk, is an intuitive opportunity to educate patients about your text appointment reminders and enroll them.

Appointments via the internet

Online scheduling software allows patients to view appointment availability and book or request their own appointments. It’s also a simple way to notify patients that they’ll be receiving appointment reminders via text message and have the patient confirm their contact information. The use of patient forms and pop-up windows can make scheduling workflows more intuitive for patients while also ensuring that a practice has the information it needs to communicate effectively before, during, and after an appointment.

In the waiting area

At a medical appointment, patients can spend up to 18 minutes in the waiting room; this is an excellent time to enroll a patient in text appointment reminders. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations are quickly adopting zero-contact processes to reduce the risk of disease spread and have begun using digital patient registration to obtain patient consent, medical and prescription history, and payer information. In this process, it is simple to incorporate patient enrollment into reminder messaging.

How to Create an Effective Appointment Reminder Text Message

Text appointment reminders work best when they include a small amount of information that is specific to the patient and are delivered at the appropriate intervals to elicit a response. The standard message template provided below can assist you in ensuring that your appointment reminder system delivers the highest patient engagement, the lowest number of patient no-shows, and the best ROI for your investment.

For good reason, healthcare is a highly regulated industry. Regulations such as HIPAA, TCPA, and even CAN-SPAM protect patient privacy while also allowing for exceptions to standard patient consent rules. We’ll answer some frequently asked questions about how to use text messages effectively while remaining HIPAA compliant.

Conclusion

Reminder messages have long been used in medical practices, hospitals, and health systems to reduce patient no-shows. However, not all automated appointment reminder solutions are created equal—strategies that are tailored to patient behaviors, preferences, and habits will outperform those that use only one mode of communication or do not include texting.

For good reason, healthcare is a highly regulated industry. Regulations such as HIPAA, TCPA, and even CAN-SPAM protect patient privacy while also allowing for exceptions to standard patient consent rules. We’ll answer some frequently asked questions about how to use text messages effectively while remaining HIPAA compliant.

Conclusion

Reminder messages have long been used in medical practices, hospitals, and health systems to reduce patient no-shows. However, not all automated appointment reminder solutions are created equal—strategies that are tailored to patient behaviors, preferences, and habits will outperform those that use only one mode of communication or do not include texting.

Appointment reminder texts are the best anchor for an appointment reminder strategy because they have the highest open and reply rates and patients can access them on their mobile devices. To account for all patient demographics and preferences, it’s critical to combine appointment reminder texts with email reminders and voice calls, so work with a vendor who offers all three modalities and won’t nickel and dime you or limit the number of messages that can be sent in a given period of time. There are numerous opportunities throughout the patient journey to enroll patients in automated appointment reminders; however, make sure to establish a process for how and when to do so and to follow it consistently across locations and departments.

Patricia

Patricia Williams is dedicated to bringing you the best and largest selection of writing prompts and writing inspiration on the internet. Whether you are looking for free guest posting websites or need a guest blogging agency to design and implement custom content, Blogg Booster has you covered!

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