One of the most common concerns about implementing Automated Appointment Confirmations is that the healthcare practice will lose the human touch they have with their patients. This is a valid concern. However, there are many advantages to using automated voice, text, and email appointment confirmation systems. In particular, these systems significantly decrease no-show rates and free up administrative staff to work on less repetitive tasks. And as you’ll see, it is possible to gain these benefits while preserving the human interaction that your patients are used to.
Most healthcare practices use the telephone as the primary mechanism to communicate with their patients, and so it is important to understand how automated voice messaging works. There are two major types of automated voice messages: computer-generated voices (sometimes known as a “Robo-calls”) and human-recorded voices. Computer-generated voices produce audio from written text, and the resulting quality is understandable but robotic and unnatural sounding. Human-recorded voices are spoken once by professional studio actors or by an individual at a healthcare practice, and then customized for each particular call based on the date and time of the appointment.
When using Vital Interaction, the staff at your healthcare practice can record a message in their own voice for appointment confirmations and other automated calling types. This way, regular patients will recognize the voice to be a member of your staff, and the shift to using an automated messaging system will be much less jarring. Human-recorded voices are an excellent way for you to maintain the warm, human touch that your patients appreciate, while giving your practice the numerous benefits of moving to an automated voice messaging system.
Once you have recorded the messages, Vital Interaction customizes them by adding the date and time on the message. This is the only part of the message that will be computer-generated. However, you can choose the voice of the computer-generated message to match the voice of the person recording the message as closely as possible.
These automated calls give your patients a way to confirm their appointment with the press of a button. Here is one possible recorded message, where the underlined parts are spoken in your own voice:
“This message is an appointment reminder for” [Patient Name] “You have an appointment with Dr. Smith on” [Generated date and time] “To confirm your appointment, please press 1. If you need to reschedule your appointment or have questions, please call us at 555-555-1234. Thank you, and we will see you soon.”
You can easily set when to send out the automated calls within the Patient Interaction System panel. You can also change settings for follow-up calls if the patient does not answer their phone, or record a modified message to be played when the automated call goes to your patient’s voicemail.
These human-recorded, automated calls are one part of the flexible Vital Interaction system. Another aspect of Vital Interaction that provides improved patient-practice communication is the text messaging system. You can configure the settings in Vital Interaction to send a text message first for appointment confirmations, and only call the patient afterwards, if a reply is not received within a selected time window.
Patients have the options of replying “Yes” or “No” to the appointment confirmation text message, and they can also reply with an alternate message. In the case where the patient replies with more than a simple “Yes” or “No”, or with a different message entirely, Vital Interaction notifies your staff with an email. This email provides a link to a text-interaction web page where your staff can type replies and convert an automated text interaction into a live human conversation.
With all of the customizable communications options and human-recorded voice messages in Vital Interaction, it’s clear that moving to an automated confirmation system does not have to mean losing the human touch in your patient communications. In fact, by communicating with your patients in the ways they prefer, while giving an easy path to human interaction, there can be more opportunities for timely communication and improved patient satisfaction.