Get an insider look the importance of reminders by healthcare influencer Barby Ingle.
When I developed chronic conditions, I was organized in life but not in medical care. I became less and less organized in my daily life and as the pain and brain fog worsened over the first few years, I missed out on so many social and work activities. I actually was not able to work a ‘real’ job any more and my job became improving my health. Should be I had a new job—being a responsible patient. It took me a few years to realize this, but I became a chronic care patient.
I remember showing up for appointments on the wrong day, wrong hour, and wrong doctor far too often. I had to get it together. But I was already trying so hard just to breathe and get through the next moment. I began keeping a color-coded calendar and when I remembered to write down the appointment information it was great and things ran smooth. The problems came into play when I was relying on friends to drive me to appointments and I was arriving on the wrong day or time and they had taken off work to assist me. I remember the frustration of my friend at the time (now husband) who said, “You are going to have to do a better job at keeping track of these appointments, I can’t keep taking off work to help you just to not help you.” The ‘brain fog’ (or ‘pain fog’ as I like to call it) can get overwhelming, making it quite difficult to think my way through writing down the information at the time I make the next appointment. This typically comes right after the provider visit and I would think, ‘I will write it down later, I will remember, I don’t feel good, that was a tough exam”. The problem with that was that I felt awful more times than not, especially right after an appointment with a medical provider.
Besides being married now, what’s different from all of the years I messed up appointments? The biggest tool is technology. Not only are our digital tools getting better but I am finding that providers with electronic systems now have reminder systems integrated into their practices. I will receive texts, emails, and phone calls reminding me of when an appointment is coming up.
I used to get a postcard from my dentist. He was the only one for many years who would send a reminder, and that was probably because I made 2 appointments a year and it was 6 months away. One month out, I would receive a postcard reminding me. That’s not so hard to keep up with. When it comes to pain providers or even my primary care doctor, I see them a lot more often and sometimes not even a month goes by between appointments. I need the digital reminders to stay on track, especially during times of pain symptom flares.
For a provider, the appointment recare/recall reminders help the patients with improve care, improve satisfaction, and improving the providers scheduling staff efficiency. As a chronic care patient, I am now to the point of relying on those digital tools to get where I need to be on time and on the right day. These reminders help me have less no shows, showing up at the wrong doctor and less cancellations. Recently I even was accidentally scheduled an appointment at my providers other office. Getting the reminder call with the date, time, provider name and location helped me realize that I would need to schedule more drive time in and make sure to go the proper location for the visit.
I love that when the call, text or email comes in, I can immediately respond and confirm or change the appointment. It has also helped me avoid the no show fees that I used to rack up, so saving money on my end is a big benefit as well. I love that the reminders also save me time because they are typically short messages that don’t clutter my inbox or texts.
As a patient I choose to opt into all of the digital options such as patient portals and appointment and recare/recall reminders. Its also a suggestion I give all my family members and friends.
Read more about appointment reminders in "6 Steps for Appointment Reminders," our free checklist.
Barby Ingle lives with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), migralepsy and endometriosis. Barby is a chronic pain educator, patient advocate, and president of the International Pain Foundation. She is also a motivational speaker and best-selling author on pain topics.
More information about Barby can be found at her website.
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of SolutionReach.