For years, providing patients with appointment cards was the standard method used to remind them of their future appointments; however, according to a recent study, modern technology is making the appointment cards an impractical reminder method for dentists, veterinarians, and really just about anyone else still using appointment cards.
Other Methods Used to Remind Patients About Upcoming Appointments
Staff Members Making Appointment Reminder Calls Can Be Costly
A single reminder call takes approximately 3 minutes. This time includes picking up the phone and dialing the number. Taking this into consideration, a staff member can make 20 calls an hour. If you divide your employee’s hourly rate by the number of calls made in per hour (20), you get an accurate cost of each reminder call. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average hourly wage for a veterinary receptionist is approximately $13/hour; hence, each call costs you $0.65.
Text Message Reminders Are Cost-Effective
Automated recall is a very effective and inexpensive tool for reminding patients about their appointments. Be sure to ask your patients if they would like to receive text reminders, and verify the number they would like the messages delivered to; otherwise, you may be sending a text to an outdated or incorrect number.
Notification Mailers and Printed Postcards Are Expensive
Take into consideration the cost of postage, printing and the labor it takes to fill out these reminders; in addition, you send these reminders via the United States Postal Service (USPS) and there is no way to ensure your patients actually receive the reminder (unless you pay even more money to send them using the USPS Signature Confirmation ™ service). By using automated services, patients can quickly and easily confirm or cancel their appointment. Furthermore, by the time your office receives a notification from the USPS that an address is undeliverable, the appointment time will have most likely passed. If the patient was a no-show, your office has lost quite a bit of revenue when you consider the cost of the postage, printing, labor and the fact that you were unable to fill the open appointment time because you thought it was already filled.
Cell Phone, Home Phone and Text Messages
According to the study, Appointment Reminder Systems and Patient Preferences: Patient Technology Usage and Familiarity with Other Service Providers as Predictive Variables, the majority of patients prefer to be reminded of their appointments via their cell phones.
In the end, the reminder method you use proves the most invaluable if the patient confirms or cancels the appointment, which is why choosing the least expensive and most effective method is essential.