Automated Patient Reminders and False-positives: A Simplified Approach to Reducing Erroneous ‘Cancel Appointment’ Requests

When sending automated reminder messages to patients, have any ever expressed to your office that they did not reply “N” or press another button, indicating that they’d like to cancel or reschedule their appointments?

Full disclosure: We know you do because it happens to most of the medical practices we work with.

The question is: What can be done to prevent—or at the very least, cut down on—‘false-positive’ cancellations and reschedules?

Exploring the Causes of False ‘Cancel Appointment’ Requests

Admittedly, we initially thought that our customers were receiving false-positive cancellation and reschedule requests because patients were pressing the wrong buttons. However, after digging deeper to determine the true causes behind these invalid requests, we are now more convinced that patients tend to make these erroneous requests as a result of:

  • being confused as to how to reply to the appointment reminder
  • forgetting an upcoming appointment
  • making a split-second decision to request the cancellation

In addition, we also find that erroneous cancellation requests also stem from having outdated or incorrect patient contact information on file, as well as from people other than the patient, such as a relative or legal guardian, cancelling the appointment.

Then, once patients really stop to think about the reminder message and their scheduled appointment, they often realize they don’t actually want to cancel. Or, they figure they can’t get back in the office for three months.

Either way, the end results are the same: less kept appointments, decreased patient satisfaction, more valuable staff time spent, and less annual revenue

Related post: “Smart Scheduling Strategies for Securing Higher Patient Retention Rates”

A Simple Yet Effective Solution to Preventing Erroneous ‘Cancel Appointment’ Requests

At Vital Interaction, we understand how frustrating such a glitch can be for both your practice and your patients. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to find a way to ensure that all cancellation requests are valid and automated, requiring little to no follow-up by front office or scheduling staff.

When sending automated patient reminders, use our simple two-step process to cut down on ‘Cancel Appointment’ requests made in error.

Our solution? A two-step appointment cancellation request and rescheduling process that is now available via email and text reminder messages. In the near future, this process will also be available through voice-call reminders.

This simple two-step process prompts patients to click on a link or a button to cancel or reschedule their appointment and then confirm once more that they do, indeed, want to cancel or reschedule their appointment.

While this feature may add a few seconds to the appointment cancellation/rescheduling process on your patients’ end, it also saves a lot of follow-up time on both ends—and it also helps cut down on missed appointments.

Customizing Your Vital Interaction System Appointment Change Verification Process  

Vital Interaction’s two-step cancellation/reschedule process comes in three forms:

  • Option 1: Appointment Cancellation/Reschedule Request with Follow-up

Users of Vital Interaction will receive a cancellation or reschedule request notification. The difference, though, is that the reschedule or cancel request has an extra layer of authenticity. Moreover, schedulers have the opportunity to follow up with the patient as desired.

  • Option 2: Appointment Cancellation/Reschedule Request Verification with Practice Management Integration

Vital Interaction is actively working with practice management systems to automate the process, greatly improving scheduling efficiency. Users of Vital Interaction can verify the cancellation or reschedule request directly within our new Request Management tool, which syncs with your schedule. Just one click can either cancel or reschedule an appointment.

  • Option 3: Automatic Cancellation or Reschedule

Patients can cancel or reschedule their own appointments without verifying beyond the initial two-step process.

Talk with your Vital Interaction Account Manager to see which verification structure will best suit your practice’s needs.

Additional Options Following a ‘Cancel Appointment’ Request

For patients needing to reschedule, our new two-step verification process offers even further convenience by automatically providing three alternative appointment times.

We’ve strategically included this step because we believe it yields an even higher level of scheduling accuracy for our customers by enabling them to easily and automatically cancel or reschedule appointments without ever having to contact patients.

We can even automate this process via certain practice management systems to further streamline scheduling requests. Contact your Account Manager today to see if this is an option for your practice.

The Great Search: Vital Interaction Is Seeking Beta Testers

If your practice is searching for a painless solution to erroneous appointment cancellation and rescheduling requests, we may have just the opportunity for you.

Vital Interaction is currently looking for beta customers to work with on this process who will allow us to contact their patients each time there is confusion or a mistake has been made regarding a requested cancellation or reschedule. It’s our hope to gain a better understanding of patients’ perspectives and why they take the actions they do. Strategic beta testing of these messages and situations will help us achieve between 98- and 99-percent accuracy of your cancellations and reschedule requests.

We have worked closely with each of our customers enough to know that the more we automate workflows, the less your staff has to do—and the more satisfied you are with us and our product.

At Vital Interaction, we go above and beyond to ensure you get a great return on your investment with us, which is why we’re constantly seeking more streamlined patient communication solutions to reduce time spent on complex workflows and make our customers’ and their patients’ lives easier.

If you are interested in tackling your practice’s problem with false-positive cancellation requests—and in helping us further streamline your Automated Patient Interaction System—please contact Chris Gowell, Vital Interaction Product Manager, at

Interested in seeing what your Return on Investment (ROI) could be with Vital Interaction?

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