Any automated system is as good as it blends into the workflow. Appointment Reminders is no exception. Its impact can be compared to switch from paper to Electronic Health Records. In order to understand how appointment reminders fit into typical practice workflow, let’s review the manual reminders workflow. There are several scenarios:
No reminders – plain and simple. This usually translates to high no show rate, 8% and higher and low adherence, e.g. having a meal before a procedure that requires fasting
Random reminders – practice identifies high risk patients and high impact appointments and selectively calls them ahead of time to remind. This is a “low hanging fruit” approach that gives very good return of investment, but still leaves room for improvement
‘Total Remind’ – practice personnel prints appointment report 2 days before the appointment date and calls each patient throughout a day whenever they get available minute. This approach provides a good coverage, but is time consuming and makes high impact on personnel. Our surveys demonstrate that practice personnel feel overwhelmed whenever they have to manage several tasks in parallel, not to mention that each call takes 2 minutes on average, adding up to 40 min a day or 200 min a week for a 20-visit/day provider
Automated appointment reminders provide benefits of the ‘Total Remind’ approach at cost close to ‘No Reminders’. Sounds too good? Let’s dive into details…
Automated appointment reminders may be fully integrated into practice management system, so once appointment is scheduled, there are no other steps to be performed by practice personnel, except managing cancelations or reschedules.
Unfortunately not all EHR providers enable direct appointment reminder integration. In this scenario, practice personnel needs to add a small task of exporting appointment schedule into automated appointment reminders service. This is a 5-minute task that needs to be performed daily for appointments that are 2-3 days ahead. Once completed, appointment reminder service takes the task of reminding patients and notifying practice of any changes requested to the schedule.
Practice workflow integration comes down to eliminating manual reminder calls during the day and in case of indirect integration, a 5 minute task of exporting schedule to the service. In most cases even this task can be automated depending on specific EHR used by the practice.
All in all, implementation of an automated appointment reminders system frees up practice personnel from 200+ minutes per week per provider.
As for benefits of no show elimination, please see the “Why would a medical practice want to implement an automated appointment reminder system?” article.