Should You Use Appointment Reminders?
by Leigh-Ann Renz, 2.9.15
How much are missed appointments costing you?
According to a recent report by Software Advice, the no-show rate for mental health clients may be as much as 50%, which is significantly higher than other medical industries. Taking into account that only four missed appointments per week can result in an annual loss of $30,000 or more in revenue, automatic appointment reminders are worth considering!
The study found that:
1) "43% of clients admitted to having missed mental health appointments without giving prior notice.
2) Among those who missed appointments, conflicting work or family obligations (27%) and forgetting (27%) were the most common reasons.
3) The greatest percentage of patients (43%) preferred personalized text message and phone call reminders over their automated counterparts."
"Finding an appointment scheduling and reminder system that resonates with patients is key to running a successful mental health practice."
Do demographics make a difference?
Yes! Clients under 35 years old were significantly more interested in text message reminders, whether personal (27%) or automatic (26%). Conversely, the greatest percentage of clients over 35 (26%) preferred receiving a personal phone call reminder. Click here to read the full report and here to see PIMSY's Software Advice profile.
What does PIMSY use? Has it saved our clients money?
PIMSY offers an optional appointment reminder service through Alert Solutions. Appointment reminders are sent via text, phone call or email and can be customized and configured to the preferences of the practice. While most of our clients who use the service are satisfied with it, one organization in particular saw a 10% reduction in their no-show rate within one year!
It's not just the service, it's also your practices
Before utilizing the add-on solution, this organization was spending hours manually calling all of the clients. Because of this intensive labor, they attacked appointment reminders head-on: after noticing that reminders sent two days out didn't change the no-show rate, they started sending reminders the day before, first thing in the morning.
They also started investing a lot of time with the clients when they come in: the front desk ensures they received their phone call and reiterates how important it is to keep their appointments - or to reschedule if needed. They also make documenting the messaging service and consenting to receive reminders part of the intake process, ensuring that the patients are familiar with it.
"Overall, I am so happy we use the messaging system. The feedback from the staff and providers has been very positive! It has saved us tons of time and money just from calling the patients - it has also helped us reach patients who may not have an active phone number or they do not have minutes on their phone, but they can text and email!" ~ Mat Campione, Billing / Staff Manager
Every practice is different, and what works for one organization may not be at all effective for another. The best way to move forward is with testing: without data, it’s hard to tell if a new system is working. Research how many missed appointments you currently log - and how much it's costing in lost revenue for the month.
Track how your outcomes change as you begin using appointment reminders, and don't be afraid to do a little experimenting to improve these numbers. Try sending reminders on a different day / time - or via a different method, such as text instead of phone call - and watch to see what effect, if any, these changes have on your bottom line.
Consider collecting reminder preferences from new clients as a part of an intake form or first appointment. Some mental health EHRs, like PIMSY, allow clients to opt in or out of receiving reminders, and permit providers to create both automated and personalized reminders using templates.
You may not find that using reminders changes your revenue flow - or you might see huge reductions in no-shows that translate to an improved bottom line. The key is to back your choices up with data and to be willing to change practice workflow, not just leave it all up to an external system. Ultimately, it's reimbursement for sessions that keeps your doors open; and if the client doesn't show up for their appointment, there is no session.
For more information about Alert Solutions - or how PIMSY handles practice management - contact us. Click here for more details about appointment reminders and how they impact mental / behavioral health care practices.