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Why do Patients Miss their Appointments at Clinics?

Every clinic has a problem with patients’ no-shows. This, of course, negatively influences the level of income of private clinics. And this is a serious problem. In order to solve it, it’s needed to understand what are the reasons for such behavior of the clients. According to the research, the main reasons are:

  • forgetting appointments;

  • young age and low socioeconomic status;

  • impossibility to go off from work;

  • problems with transport;

  • having to be with children and the absence of free time because of this;

  • feeling better than at the moment a patient booked an appointment;

  • feeling that bad, so being unable even to come.

And if we can hardly influence the majority of these reasons, the first one can be easily solved. Want to know the effective methods for this? Then read this article further.

The Best Ways to Reduce Patient No-Shows

Many ways are practiced by different clinics. The majority of them are oriented on coping with the problems described previously in this article. Among them, there are:

  • helping patients with transport;

  • postponing appointments according to the preferences of a client;

  • benefits for patients with low socioeconomic status.

But according to the research, the best ways to reduce patient no-shows are email and a text message appointment reminder. You can:

  • confirm appointments by text right after booking it;

  • and send the messages on the day before the appointment for solving the most popular reason for non-showing — forgetting.

Which channel to use for sending reminders?

There are a few variants:

  • Using both SMS and email reminders at the same time. You can send a newsletter and a phone message to the same client in order for him/her to see the information for sure. Even if he/she doesn’t check a smartphone all day, but opens the mailbox from PC, he/she will see an email. And vice versa, if he/she doesn’t open a mailbox all day, but has the phone in hand, he/she will see an appointment reminder on the phone.

  • Sending SMS and email to different clients. In this case, everything will depend on the information you’ve got about the person. Send SMS to the people who have left their phone numbers and emails to those who left their email addresses. This way you will adapt to the certain patient’s preferences about the way of communication.

  • Sending either email or SMS appt reminder. You can choose one of the communication channels which is more convenient and favorable for you. But, of course, it will be less effective than using both channels at the same time. And if you have chosen this third way for an app reminder we recommend SMS. It is faster, has a higher open rate, and is read much faster than the email. Newsletters have their own advantages like beautiful design, the possibility to insert visuals, and a bigger volume of the text. But they are more appropriate for marketing purposes. And as for reminders, SMS is better.

Once you know what are the ways of preventing patients from forgetting appointments let’s discuss the issue of how to send reminders and what tools to use for this.

Instruments for sending email and text message appointment reminders

Atomic Bulk SMS Marketing Service will help you with the first one. It allows you to send SMS to an unlimited number of recipients. The service has been chosen by thousands of users due to the following benefits:

  • It has a user-friendly interface;

  • It is easy to work with;

  • There is 24/7 customer support so that you can contact a specialist in case of any misunderstanding while working with it.

  • The prices are very favorable, so you won’t spend a lot of money on the solving of the patient no-shows.

Atomic bulk email software is needed for the second way of reducing patient no-shows, email reminders. This program has all that is needed for a successful email campaign:

  • There are dozens of built-in HTML templates so that you don’t need to create a design by yourself.

  • There is a feature of postponed delivery. So, it’s possible to set up sending automated patient reminders in the needed time and date in advance.

  • The number of mailing lists and addresses in each of them is unlimited.

  • The price of the software is very favorable. Furthermore, you buy a program once, and then use it for a long time without any additional payments.

We have told you what instruments can help you to set up sending SMS and emails. And now let’s pass to the issue of how to write a good text for a medical reminder.

How to Write Effective SMS Appointment Reminders

To not waste your budget you should create remind text alerts in the right way. Here are the main rules we recommend taking into account:

  • Personalize messages. While being called by name a patient feels important for a clinic. This increases the chances that a person will come to an appointment even if there are some difficulties.

    John, don’t forget about your appointment with a physician at CLINIC tomorrow at 9 AM! If there are some changes call %phone_number%

    In this template for appointment reminder, you can see personalization highlighted with the green color. It shows you being interested in a certain client so that he/she feels important to you.

  • Keep the text short. Remember that you’ve got only 160 characters with spaces. Take into account that besides the main text, there should be a place for contacts (phone number or a link to a website). In addition to the character limit, one more reason for being laconic is that people don’t like long SMS and don’t read them if the text doesn’t start from important information

    Jane, you’ve just booked an appointment with a cardiologist at CLINIC. Waiting for you on 30/10/2020 at 10 AM! %phone_number%

    Here is an example of a short SMS. It consists only of 125 characters including personalization and the place for the phone number.

  • Include all the important details about the appointment: what kind of doctor is waiting for a patient, time and date of consultation, the name of your clinic.

    Mary, the physician is waiting for you at CLINIC tomorrow at 4 PM! %phone_number%

    In this template, you can see an example of placing all the needed information in the reminder text. There are details about what kind of doctor a person is going to visit, the name of the clinic, the date and the time of an appointment.

  • Add your contacts for a person to be able to get in touch with you if there are some changes in his/her plans or schedule. This way you will have a chance not to lose a client if he/she can’t come at the previously set date, but to postpone the consultation.

    Kate, don’t forget about your appointment with an endocrinologist tomorrow at 9 AM! If there are some changes in your plans please let us know %phone_number%

    In this example, a clinic has not just put their contacts, but in addition to it has asked directly a person to call if there are some changes in plans (this part is highlighted with the green color) So, this has increased the chances for an appointment not to be just ignored if it’s impossible to come, but to be rescheduled.

Take into account these tips and solve the problem of a high level of no-shows with SMS reminders. And Atomic SMS Sender will help you with this. Register on the service and test its abilities with 10 free SMS!

Related Reading

If you are interested not only in medical text messaging, check out some articles about the using SMS sending in the other industries:

Increase the amount of clients with SMS marketing

Create an account in Atomic SMS Sender and send 10 free messages

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