In a recent letter to Miss Manners, a patient describes her experience with her doctor’s appointment reminder. The staff called her to confirm her appointment but since the patient didn’t answer the phone, they left a message. The message they left insisted the patient call them back to confirm and keep the appointment. The writer explains that the insistence of the staff to have her call them back to confirm she will be at her appointment was insulting. “What respectable person wouldn’t keep their appointment or cancel it in a reasonable time?”, she writes.

Miss Manners Responds

As Miss Manners responds, the epidemic are the patients who do not cancel or who do not show, rather than the annoyance of a staff member wanting to confirm the appointment. Many medical practitioners would agree they face a challenge of getting members to keep their appointments. Or at the very least, cancel their appointment within a reasonable time. Some facilities will charge the patient a penalty if they do not follow their cancellation policy or if the patient does not show up for their appointment. Is this the best solution?

Text Appointment Reminders

One of the leading solutions to this problem is appointment reminders via text or email. For example, the system allows a text message appointment reminder to be sent to your patient. As a result the patient can then confirm their appointment with a quick text back. This communication is very easy for the staff to manage, and very convenient for the patient. Text reminders save time, decrease no-shows, and ultimately enhances the bottom line.

Email Appointment Reminders

Email reminders work in a similar way. Most practices will opt for SMS reminders because of the nature of a text being sent instantly to a person’s phone, which most people keep on them 24/7. An email reminder, while still very effective, must wait for the person to see the email (i.e check their email) and is not as convenient as a text reminder. However, an email might be easier to respond to for some.
Using either tactic, a medical reminder is necessary to decreasing patient no-shows. With programs available for as little as $9.99 a month, and easily integrated into any existing system, there are no excuses as to why any practice could not benefit from this time saver.

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