PM Hack – #10: Utilize Text Based Appointment Reminders
The appointment is the glue that holds the physician-patient relationship together. Unfortunately, conventional appointments don’t work anymore. Patients wait too long, and physicians are so under the gun that they don’t get the time they need to fully examine patients. The end result: unhappy patients and unhappy physicians. Here are some tips to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of physician-patient appointments. Here are the seven steps to maximize patient appointment scheduling:
1) Streamline the Check-In Process.Send/email patients all forms that they’ll need to fill out when they arrive at the office, such as medical history and insurance forms. Have them bring these completed forms when they arrive to reduce time and stress at check-in. Also, ask patients to bring a list of allergies they may have.
2) Implement Text Based Appointment Reminders.
- Texts get exponentially greater views and interaction that phone calls or emails
- Text messages help reduce no-shows and cancellations by reminding patients the day before
- Text messages should include information about outstanding patient balances
- Prompts patient to pay and/or call to reschedule
3) Delegate Responsibility. Your staff has to work together in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Make a list of all of your responsibilities and determine which ones can be handled by nurses or assistants, and have your subordinates do the same. Set up automatic alerts that will prompt your staff to bring up certain topics, such as recommended tests when a patient reaches a certain age.
4) Be Personable. Use some of your newfound free time to speak with your patients one-on-one and get to know them a little better. Ask them about their family members and children. These small, but all too forgotten about niceties are what makes patients loyal and will keep them coming back.
5) Educate. Both your staff and your patients can benefit from some additional knowledge. Teach your staff how to explain basic concepts to patients so that you don’t have to. Create newsletters and pamphlets to communicate big-ticket ideas and basic health guidelines with your patients. Create a website that has informative videos that discuss health topics your patients should know about.
6) Structure Your Appointments. Ask your patients up front the reason for their visit. If they have any additional concerns, take note of these issues and tell the patient that you’ll discuss them later, after the principal reason for the appointment has been sufficiently addressed. If the patient has brought online research, thank them for the information, but review the material later on after the appointment is over. Contact the patient directly if the material is worth discussing. Create an internal chart review process in your practice so that you don’t have to waste valuable time with the patient going over their records. Determine what each patient’s situation is and what you should be looking for. Prepare any necessary materials, such as educational texts, you may need and have them ready when the patients arrive.
7) Use a Patient Portal. Technology affords you the opportunity to keep better tabs on patients. Don’t pass it up! Use the portal to talk to patients about their online research and to follow up about other health concerns. Teach your nurses how to use the portal so that they can get back to patients more quickly, freeing up more of your time for pressing matters. It also assists in utilizing text based appointment reminders.