Implementation of an appointment reminders releases practice staff from the burden of handling phone reminders and eliminates losses from no-shows.
Below is a single-provider practice example:
Staff cost - 25 patients a day, 3 minutes per reminder, 300 hours a year, $4,000 in wages and benefits.
No-shows – 7%, 1.75 patients a day, 437 patients a year. No-show rate reduced by 3.5%, Revenue increase $21,875/year per provider.
The net effect from implementing an automated appointment reminder system is $25,000 per provider.
Precision Spine and Pain Management clinic has two medical providers, one MD and one PA.
Janet, Clinic Manager, is responsible for having patients reminded of upcoming appointments and instructed about upcoming procedures, e.g. no food 12 hours prior to procedure, etc. Janet uses clinic EHR system to generate upcoming appointments reports. Reports are grouped in three categories – New appointments, Follow-Ups, and Procedures. Reports are further divided per provider. Every day Janet hands down 6 reports to Miranda who works at the front desk.
Miranda calls patients in between other tasks. She is frequently interrupted by incoming calls and patients in the waiting room. Miranda’s job is considered most stressful among office staff, mostly because of frequent interruptions. Personally, Miranda rates the task of reminding patients as one that adds significant amount of stress with little positive feedback. Even though she does not share her thoughts with Janet, whenever there is a need for reprioritization, reminders get shoved to the bottom of the queue. Miranda typically handles reminders after the last patient has walked in and before she leaves home. Naturally, she wants to get this completed as soon as possible, so that she can leave. Unconsciously, messages she leaves on the answering machines are a little too short from the intended script as well as a little too fast.
On days when Miranda needs to leave early, Janet tries to handle reminders. But this is not working all the time because Janet’s day is also full.
A year ago
Janet got Memento Clinical 30-day free promotion in the mail. This happened after one of the days when Miranda was out of the office and two patients have not shown up for a procedure. On the next team huddle, Janet has proposed to give it a try. She registered with Memento Medical for a trial. Since practice EHR is new to Memento, Janet had to provide a sample schedule. Next day the practice was ready to use the system.
First, Janet decided to take the ‘easy’ route and use voice generated reminders. She set up templates for new patients, follow-ups and procedures. She also set up two providers. In about 30 minutes, Janet was ready to test the system. She has created a ‘fake’ appointment for herself and scheduled a reminder. Next minute she got a phone call with her own practice showing on the caller ID reminding her of an appointment and asking to press 1 to confirm, 2 to reschedule or 3 to cancel. Once she confirmed, practice received e-mail notification and Janet was able to see the confirmed appointment in the real-time reporting panel. That was a WOW moment for Janet. Effectively, Miranda won’t have to do any of this work anymore!
After a week of using the reminders, Janet realized that she can further improve patient experience by having the system remind them with the voice they are used to. She asked Miranda to read the reminder scripts to the computer, so that they can get pre-recorded and used in Memento Medical when calling patients. Now, it is Miranda’s voice that patients hear on the phones and answering machines.
When the free 30-day trial was close to an end, Janet knew that the system would pay for itself in just a day of use. But she figured that real numbers should do the talking on the next huddle. Janet ran a no-show report for the month preceding the trial and compared it to the current month. During the pre-automated reminders, practice missed 71 appointment or 12%. In the next month there were 23 no-shows or 3.8%. Miranda did not have to spend any time on reminders.
With these numbers on hand, Janet had no problem pivoting information around economical effect. With an average $300 collection per appointment, in a month the practice saved $14,400 on on-shows and added 30 hours to Miranda’s availability for handling face-to-face tasks.