Using Patient Appointment Text Reminders to Boost Your Medical or Dental Practice’s Efficiency
While the majority of all healthcare appointments are made by phone, interestingly enough, 31% of Americans actually prefer patient appointment text reminders whenever possible. That’s a number that’s growing, and it’s one your practice should be aware of. Text message reminders for medical and dental appointments are slowly replacing phone and email reminders as the kind people use most, and it’s in your best interest to start integrating this if you haven’t already.
What are Medical Office Text Message Reminders?
Basically, a text message reminder is a way to ensure your patients show up for their appointments. It is an SMS message that goes directly to their cell phone, and through which they can usually confirm their already-scheduled appointment. These patient appointment text reminders are simple, straightforward, and can significantly cut down on the time your practice spends calling and emailing people. Most importantly, it can do something about those high numbers of missed appointment numbers, and get people back through your practice’s doors when they need to be there.
Why Your Office Should Be Using Patient Appointment Reminders
One big reason your medical or dental office should seriously consider using patient appointment text reminders? They work. People pay attention to them. A 2017 survey from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) ran the numbers on this, and asked patients about how medical practices could help them keep appointments. They found that 38% of patients thought text message reminders would help. This was 14% more than people who reported phone calls would help, and 19% more than people who thought email reminders would do the same.
So it’s clear that patients would rather receive text message reminders. You might, of course, be wondering why that’s the case, and why they work so well. Here are a few things to keep in mind about SMS’s efficacy:
- People read texts instantly. There are a lot of people who don’t like answering the phone, and emails can sit in inboxes for days before they’re opened. But 90% of texts are generally read within 3 minutes of being received.
- Texts are considered friendlier than calls and emails. Many people check their text messages even when they don’t have time to answer the phone – and it’s easier for them to refer back to a text later than a voice message.
- It’s rare for people to ignore their text messages. Fewer than 1% of all text messages are left unread, and there’s no spam box for them to land in, so you can be sure people will essentially always see them.
“90% of texts are generally read within 3 minutes of being received.”
So how can you effectively use these kinds of reminders for your practice? Consider the following:
Use Patient Reminders to Send Appointment Confirmation Text Messages
After a patient has scheduled an appointment, you can use text reminders to follow up immediately with a confirmation. That way they can add it to their calendar without waiting, making it far less likely that you’ll have a no-show months later.
Use Patient Reminders to Provide Appointment Reminders
Once a patient has been scheduled, you can set up automated reminders for their upcoming appointment. These text messages can be scheduled to go to a patient’s phone weeks or days before their appointment, so they have every opportunity to confirm, cancel, or reschedule if necessary.
Use Patient Reminder Text Messages to Follow Up With No Shows
While patient appointment text reminders should significantly decrease no-shows, they are still a good way to check in with patients who miss their appointments. Texts’ accessibility makes it more likely for a patient to follow up with you after not showing up – or showing up late – which in turn streamlines the turnover for your staff. That’s one less phone call to make, and a lot less time wasted for you.
How to Sign Up Patients for Text Appointment Reminders
So once you’re ready to start using text appointment reminders, how do you get your patients on board? Sharing with them how easy it is to use, and following up by getting their consent, is the process, in simplest terms. Here are a few different ways you can start signing up your patients for text message appointment reminders.
Sign Up Patients for Text Reminders When They Schedule Online.
Online scheduling is great for letting patients access appointment booking and availability. But it’s also an excellent and easy way to tell patients they’ll be receiving appointment reminders over text as well as verifying their contact information. This can be a smooth and intuitive means of making sure they can sign up easily and have all the information they need to prepare for their appointments.
Sign Up Patients for Appointment Reminder Texts While They’re in the Waiting Room.
The time patients spend in the waiting room can be used to have them sign up for text appointment reminders. If your practice has already started using a form of digital appointment registration, it makes it even easier to add this to the process, because patients’ contact information can be easily integrated into it.
Sign Up Patients for Text Message Reminders When They’re Scheduling Their Next Appointment.
This can work well whether you schedule appointments over the phone or through a call center. It gives you a moment to talk to patients about your procedure for making appointments, and give them the option to enroll in text reminders. Simply let them know that the reminders are available, and ask if their cell phone is on file to move forward with them.
How to Write Medical Office Text Message Reminders
Now that you have a better understanding of how text message reminders can be used, it’s important to know how to draft them, too. You want to create text reminders that people will read, and that stick in their minds. Keep the following points in mind about your appointment reminders:
- They should be short, to-the-point, and easy to read
- They should include the main appointment details – the date, time, and location
- They should ask patients to confirm by replying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
- They should remind patients of what to bring, whether that means paperwork, an insurance card, and/or payment
All of these details matter! Most no-shows happen because patients end up writing down the wrong appointment time, or missing some other crucial bit of information. So it’s important to include everything in your patient appointment reminder texts. Plus, when you ask patients to confirm by replying, you make no-shows even less likely, because their engagement makes them far more likely to remember what they’ve read.
In addition to these points, here are a few other things you can do when using DialMyCalls to create and send your text message reminders.
Personalize Your SMS Appointment Reminders.
Remembering to add patients’ names and appointment dates to text reminders is a great way to make sure they know they’re not just anonymously going in and out of your doors. DialMyCalls allows you to personalize your SMS reminders so you can better connect with the recipients.
Automate Your SMS Appointment Reminders.
To make the process easier on you and your staff, you can automate text message reminders. DialMyCalls allows you to organize patients’ SMS reminders so they go out a certain number of days or weeks in advance of their appointment.
So what does a strong patient appointment text reminder look like? Here are a few samples for you to review, and consider using as a model for your practice.
Text Message Appointment Reminder Templates
Dentist or Doctor Appointment Text Message Sample:
Reschedule Appointment Text Message Sample:
Patient Appointment Text Reminders & HIPAA Compliance
Text message reminders for medical and dental appointments are considered HIPAA compliant. Of course, that said, this is because they’re not used for sending private medical information. So be sure to exercise caution when texting patients, and let your staff know that what they can send is limited to being related to appointment logistics. And again, always remember to get patient consent when it comes to sending and receiving text messages from your practice.
Why Use DialMyCalls for Your Automated Patient Reminders
If you haven’t already done so, bringing patient appointment text reminders into your practice is a great way to make a thriving business even stronger. DialMyCalls is one of the best tools you can use to do so. Our system makes it possible to organize and automate messages to your patients, and easy to add new people to your contact list whenever you need to. Be sure to have a look at the different features you can access when you use DialMyCalls, and contact us when you’re ready to learn more about how we can help you stay connected.