Three is a magic number here at Solutionreach. Maybe you’ve heard about our 3-3-3 strategy for appointment reminders that delivers the highest confirmation rate? We also write a lot about helping you streamline your office tasks with three simple changes, or explaining how to implement three new strategies into your daily routine.
Today’s blog is yet another reason for healthcare practices to love the number three as much as we do. Read on to learn how to conquer the chaos of patient scheduling at your practice in just three easy steps.
1. Stop answering the phone.
You read that right; it’s not a typo. One of the first things you can do to make patient scheduling easier on your staff and your patients is to take the whole process online. When you offer online scheduling – something the majority of your patients would prefer – you take the burden off your team.
Instead of answering the phone and trying to find convenient appointment times that fit into busy schedules, your staff is freed up to better interact with patients face-to-face, creating a more positive experience for everyone in the office. Offering online scheduling also gives your patients more options, including allowing them to request appointments outside of normal business hours.
Statistics show that more than 40 percent of patients are frustrated by only being able to make an appointment during business hours. They find it challenging to take time out of their own busy schedules to actually call the doctor’s office to make an appointment. And nearly another 40 percent don’t like the fact that they can’t access their dentist, optometrist, or primary care provider’s schedule online.
2. Start sending automatic appointment reminders.
Let’s face it: part of the chaos of patient scheduling is in the reminders. If you’re still relying on the phone system, then someone in your office probably starts their day with a list of patient phone calls. You know the drill – call each patient on the list, hoping to get in touch with them, or leave a voicemail reminding them of their upcoming appointment.
Think of how many times your receptionist or patient coordinator has to say, “Hi Mr. Jones, this is Susan from Dr. Smith’s office. I’m calling to remind you about your appointment on Tuesday at 2:00 pm. Will you still be able to make it?” These appointment reminders are just as time-consuming as the appointment scheduling phone calls, and often very frustrating for your already overloaded staff.
Think how easy it would be to simply have an automated appointment reminder system that sends a text or an email to each patient on the schedule at a predetermined weekly, daily, or hourly interval. While your staff focuses on other tasks, you let patient relationship management technology do the work for you! Essentially, it’s like having a dedicated employee who sends out all the appointments reminders at exactly the right time through the right method of patient communication.
Automated appointment reminders also solve the problem of confirming appointments by phone. A simple text or email does double the work – it lets patients know about their upcoming appointments and allows them to reply to confirm or request a more convenient time.
This is especially useful for dentist offices, or annual doctor’s visits that are typically scheduled six months to a year in advance. And guess what it does for your no-show rate? Read more about reducing no-shows here.
3. Text your patients in real time.
Patients of all ages text their family and friends every day to communicate dinner plans, say hello, and send pictures of their vacation. Wouldn’t it be great if they could text your office to book an appointment or ask a question and get a reply in real time? Since so many people are comfortable sending and receiving text messages, it just makes sense that they would find it easy and “normal” to text their healthcare providers.
In fact, a recent study indicated that 90 percent of Americans believe automated communications, including text messages, online scheduling, and appointment reminders, are a beneficial way to keep in touch with their dentists, eye doctors, and other healthcare providers. As the millennial generation continues to influence society and technology with their texting preferences – many of them choosing texting as their preferred mode of communication – you may find that if you don’t offer this option, you’ll see a decline in your patient base. Or, at the very least, you won’t acquire any new patients in that age group.
Whether you want to make life easier for your team, improve patient satisfaction so you get more referrals, or actively grow your practice, it all begins with three simple steps.
See how online scheduling can work for your office. Check out these downloadable guides for: