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How SMS Marketing Reduces Healthcare No-show Appointments

Jan 31, 2020

Appointments bring you revenue. Whether you are a dentist, a masseur (masseuse) or psychotherapist, your mission is to improve your patient’s health and thus, earn money.

 

But no-show appointments might become a real enemy for your business. You think that your A patient has already booked an hour, but he/she doesn’t show up. 

 

If you knew it in advance, you could replace him/her with another patient and don’t lose your service fee. That’s a problem many healthcare businesses continue to face. 

If we ask why healthcare no-show appointments happen at all, answers are as clear as day. People forget the date/time, perform other duties and get busy and don’t even inform you they won’t visit you.  As a result, they do harm to your pocket and sometimes also their health.

How to deal with this situation and how to reduce no show appointments?

We are going to show you why text messages are so effective as healthcare appointment reminders and how they can help you avoid missed opportunities.

 

Why appointment reminders are a good fit for healthcare centers

 

Appointment reminders work perfectly for healthcare centers because health-related visits usually are followed by multiple more visits. And whether it’s a post-surgery recovery process or a customer visits you for beauty purposes, both you and your patient/customer will benefit from healthcare reminders.

Reminding is great. But would you like someone to call and remind you about an appointment when you are too busy to pick your phone? Most patients don’t love it because they might be at a meeting, driving or doing tons of other things. 

The first problem with calling for any business is that your call might just remain unanswered. 

The second problem is that if your patients don’t fix the details during the call, they again might confuse the date/time.

Lastly, calling each patient individually requires hiring administrative assistants and using human resources to make every single call. 

Unlike it, you can send mass text messages automatically without the need to overload your office assistants. 

Instead, they can allocate more time answering incoming phone calls, greeting visitors, and arranging rescheduled appointments.

 

Besides, SMS reminders 

 

  • are quick,
  • are much more affordable, 
  • guarantee almost 100% open rate, and 
  • can be opened whenever your customer feels comfortable.

 

Plus, the appointment day and time are saved in your customers’ phones. So they might check the details later if necessary.

 

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Brandon Seigel from Wellness Works says:

 

I consult private practices throughout the US and have found healthcare reminders to dramatically reduce cancellations, no-shows, and optimize reschedules. 

Recently I implemented a new EMR system for one of my clients with text reminders. What was the result? 

We decreased cancellations/no-shows from 17% to 10% and 50% of the cancellations were rescheduled because of the text reminders.

 

How text messages help with reducing appointment no shows in healthcare 

 

Think text messages are there only to remind your patients? They also give the patients the freedom to choose. 

If they have urgent tasks to do and can’t attend the appointment, that’s fine. You give them a chance to cancel the appointment or reschedule it for another day. 

Your administrative assistant can contact only those patients who want to change the appointment day/time. Minimum work to be done.

A typical reminder may look like this:

Hi John! Reminder: You have an appointment with Dr. Dan on May 3, 3:00 p.m. Please reply with YES to confirm, NO to cancel or reschedule.”

By the way, there are businesses that charge patients for missing the appointment or canceling at the last minute. Some additional strictness may help your patients get more serious and don’t play with your revenue.

 

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Kamilah Thomas from KBT Consulting says:

I am a licensed clinical social worker and use healthcare reminders for all of my clients through my EHR system. 

It definitely helps with reducing no-show appointments if they didn't put our session on their personal calendar. 

The text reminder also acts as the 24 hour reminder for clients to cancel their appointment to avoid the late cancellation fee.”

Let’s see what role appointment reminders play in each niche of the healthcare industry and how to deal with no-show appointments with a text messaging platform:

 

Psychological therapy 

Psychological health is part of every person’s overall health. And attending meetings with psychologists will help people get rid of stress and be more relaxed.

People seeking psychological help usually should attend one session per week and the whole treatment might last up to 3-4 months. Text messages will help them keep on the right track and pass all sessions without unnecessary intervals.

 

Dentistry

Placing dental implants may take up to 8 months or even longer. Your patient needs to visit you regularly to make progress step by step and reach the final stage easily. 

Dental braces are another example. Once braces are already on your patient’s teeth, that doesn’t mean you will meet again only the day when the braces will be removed. 

Your patient needs to visit you at least once a month so you track the teeth’ progress and intervene if necessary. And he/she is supposed to pay a fixed fee every month until there’s no need for braces. Text messages again come handy.

 

Wellness centers 

The mission of wellness centers is to provide people with consultation sessions on 

 

  • nutrition, 
  • weight management, 
  • consequences of using alcohol and drugs, 
  • treatment of disorders and transmitted diseases,
  • other similar topics.

 

Habif Health and Wellness Center at Washington University say they missed 1,500+ appointments in 2017. That cost them 1.5 full-time staff members. That’s why they started sending messages to students to avoid similar situations. See the text below:

If your wellness center faces similar problems, it’s time to focus on struggling with them effectively.

 

Massage therapy

Medical massage is quite different from spa massage and requires regular visits. 

The reason is that one can visit a spa center for fun. But those who use professional massage services usually have pain in their back/neck, face circulation or inflammation problems. 

And similar patients usually attend massage sessions twice or at least once a week. 

If your patients want to have good health with regular massages sessions, they are very likely to be interested in opting-in your subscriber list. And you will avoid missed sessions and don’t be forced to lose your service fee.

 

Aesthetic medicine

Aesthetic medicine includes multiple services, starting from removing unwanted hair to removing wrinkles and applying anti-aging methods.  All these processes require regular visits from customers who want to have an amazing look. 

Women should attend sessions almost every month or even 1-2 times a week. That depends on what service they use and want results they want to achieve.  Reminding women (and why not men) about the time to look great is a must for thriving aesthetics medicine centers.

 

Post-surgery treatment

Say you are an ophthalmological center and patients visit you so you perform surgery and improve their vision. 

After the surgery, your patients need to be under your control and visit you multiple times during the next month. 

The same goes for other surgeries after which the patients still need to pass tests and check their health progress.

If the recovery process is not complete, patients might face serious consequences that will endanger their well-being.

A short SMS will help them visit you with regular intervals, fully recover and successfully finalize their treatment process.

 

Practical tactics: how to use SMS healthcare appointment reminders in 2020

Already convinced how powerful role a simple message can play in your patients’ and your business’s life? Below you will find tips on how to create and use your messages:

 

#1 Promote your opt-in

Naturally, you can’t send text messages to someone who hasn’t agreed on it before. You first need to ask for permission:

Mr/Ms. Brown, would you like to receive appointment reminders via SMS? If you need to reschedule your appointment day/time after receiving the reminder, you can simply let us know with a reply message.” 

If your patient/customer says Yes, you can add his/her phone number to your system. People should be aware that you are going to contact them and your message won’t look disturbing.

 

#2 Timing is key

You should remind your customers about their upcoming appointment one or two days before. Reminding 3-4 days before isn’t recommended as people can again forget the hour.

Some appointments require patients to show up after a month. If a long time frame is included, you can send 2 messages - one after 2 weeks and 2 days before.

 

#3 Include a phone number for reply

There definitely should be a phone number to store all the replies. And of course, an administrative assistant to track them.  Make sure your messages aren’t sent from a no-reply system and your customers can inform about their plans easily.

 

#4 Be clear and direct

You can’t send text messages that are longer than 160 characters. That’s your maximum limit (but with Textedly, you can send a message with up to 300 characters).  An ideal appointment reminder may look like this:

Reminder: Ms/Mr. Johnson, you have an appointment with Dr. Williams on Feb 20, 11 a.m. Reply within 24 hours if you’d like to cancel/reschedule it

148 characters total and you managed to tell all the essential information - doctor’s name, day/time, and a way to cancel/reschedule the appointment.

There might be cases when you’ll need to add a location. If your physical address has changed and your patient is not aware, don’t hesitate to inform about it.

 

#5 Avoid adding personal info 

Including people’s health-related private info in a text message isn’t recommended, plus it’s even illegal.  You don’t have the right to spread sensitive information via a message that can be opened or seen by a third person. Make sure you only talk about administrative procedures in your messages and don’t go into contextual details.

 

Need help finding the best SMS appointment reminder solution?

Acknowledging the power of SMS reminders is not enough. You still need to figure out which platform is reliable and easy to use, plus it is armed with all the functionality you want at hand. That solution is not far from you: it’s Textedly.

What does Textedly allow you?

  1. Schedule and send mass messages: Check your electronic healthcare system to see which patients have appointments on a certain day.

  2. Add custom data fields: Of course, you won’t send the very same message to all of your customers. Because they have different names and their appointments are scheduled for different days/hours, and probably with different doctors. 

 

Textedly automatically pulls the custom data from your system and sends personalized messages to everyone.

 

  • Receive replies for free: Whether your customer wants to confirm his/her appointment date, reschedule or cancel it, he/she can send a free reply to you. 

 

So what to do next and how to send text message appointment reminders? See which Textedly plan suits your business needs the most and start your free trial with Textedly today.