How to remind patients of appointments

Is your healthcare practice losing money because of missed appointments? A no-show or last-minute cancellation might seem like a minor disruption to your daily workflow, but these issues add up and ultimately cut into your bottom line.

Some medical providers assume that missed appointments are unavoidable. That may be true, but you can minimize these issues with a proactive system to remind patients about their appointments.

How missed appointments affect your business

When a patient doesn’t show up for a scheduled appointment, you’re not just missing out on revenue. In fact, there are a few ways no-shows impact your bottom line: 

  • Loss of potential income 
  • Missed opportunity to backfill the empty time with another patient
  • Wasted time on administrative tasks to reschedule the appointment
  • Inefficiencies from adjusting to changing schedules

Whether or not the patient shows up, you still have to pay for overhead costs like equipment, staff salaries, rent, and more, so it’s important to minimize the chances they’ll miss their appointment.

How much missed appointments cost 

One missed appointment is relatively insignificant when you consider your revenue for the whole year. But the real issue is the price of repeat no-shows, which can cost you thousands of dollars or more.

For example, the cost of missed appointments in the medical industry can add up to as much as $150,000 in annual losses for a single physician. A recent study revealed that the U.S. healthcare system loses an estimated $150 billion annually because of missed appointments.

Missed appointments affect other service-based industries as well, including home contractors, therapists, accountants, and hair stylists. In all sectors, the average no-show rate usually ranges from 10–15 percent.

Why patients miss appointments

There are times when legitimate situations make it difficult for a patient to keep an appointment. For example, if someone is sick or has a last-minute daycare cancellation, then they might be unable to make it.

But most of the time, no-shows happen because the patient either forgot about the appointment or put it on the wrong day in their calendar. 

Here’s the good news — you can avoid these minor mistakes by using an appointment reminder system.

How to avoid appointment no-shows

It’s possible to avoid last-minute cancellations and no-shows by taking a few proactive steps:

  • Online appointment management. Set up a system so patients can request and change their bookings online. When patients can manage their own appointments, it increases the likelihood that they’ll change the booking in advance if a schedule conflict arises.
  • Automatic reminders. It’s a waste of time for staff members to send manual appointment reminders. Instead, integrate an automated system into your workflow so patients receive notifications about their upcoming appointments. Send emails and SMS text messages to remind each patient about the time and date of their appointment.
  • Follow-ups when needed. Track appointment attendance and no-show history, then follow up with patients when required. If you see a pattern of no-shows, then it’s a good idea to ask the patient about potential adjustments to remedy this issue.

When you’re consistent with appointment reminders, you reduce the likelihood of no-shows and last-minute cancellations, helping to streamline your workflow each day.

How to set up appointment reminders

An effective appointment reminder system provides the patient with appointment details automatically. For example, if you’re using JotForm’s appointment slots widget, it’s possible to send reminder emails so you can minimize missed appointments.

For best results, send appointment reminders at specific intervals:

  • At the time of appointment booking
  • One week before the appointment
  • 24 hours before the appointment

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every business. Some companies find that a reminder sent a week before the appointment has the same effect as a reminder sent a day prior. The benefit of reaching out in advance is that you have time to refill the appointment slot if the patient needs to reschedule or cancel.

If you’re wondering how to remind patients of appointments, JotForm is a great option. Check out our no-code templates and forms that can help you streamline a variety of systems, including appointment scheduling and reminders.

This article is originally published on Apr 21, 2021, and updated on Jul 12, 2021.
AUTHOR
Firm believer in personal data privacy in the age of information. Close follower of the new regulations concerning patient confidentiality & HIPAA. You can reach George through his contact form. The views stated herein are for discussion only, and are not intended to constitute medical advice or any other advice, procedures, or guidelines for diagnosing or treating any medical condition or for any aspect of the practice of medicine.

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