In a perfect world, everyone would schedule in advance, confirm appointments, and show up on time. Alas, however, we live in the real world, and that isn’t the case.
The fact is people get sick, things come up, and schedules change. This is especially the case when patients schedule near their appointments.
If you know anything about patient scheduling, then you know that patients who schedule near the actual date of the appointment are among the most likely to not show up. In fact, these patients play a key role in practices’ no-show rates.
This causes many practice administrators to question whether it’s worth sending reminder messages to patients who schedule near their appointment—and if it is, whether the message type or content should differ from reminders sent to patients who scheduled further out.
Let’s take a look.
When patients schedule near the actual appointment, they often fail to show. There are a number of reasons why this occurs.
For example, if a parent whose child is sick from trick or treating in chilly temps schedules on the Wednesday after Halloween and can’t be seen until Friday, a plethora of things may happen in between. For instance, they may opt to visit a walk in clinic, or the child may start feeling better with over-the-counter medications.
We get it; life gets busy, making it is easy for patients to forget commitments they’ve made.
That said, though, if your office changes its schedule to accommodate one of these appointments, it’s important to know whether the patient intends to keep her appointment.
At Vital Interaction™, we recommend putting a strategic scheduling system in place and always touching base with your patients, regardless of when their appointment was scheduled.
The question, though, then becomes: What type of message should you send?
There are different types of reminder messages available via your Vital Interaction™ system that you can send to patients. The kind of message you send to patients who schedule near their appointment will depend on your end goal.
For example, if you’re focused on getting a confirmation, we recommend sending a confirmation message. These nifty messages are configured to be delivered close to patients’ appointments, which helps enhance patients’ accountability—and can ultimately improve the odds of kept appointments.
On the other hand, if you’re simply trying to remind the patient of his or her upcoming appointment, then a simple pre-appointment message should do the trick.
There will always be patients who schedule near appointments, and many still aren’t going to show. However, by being strategic with your reminder messages, you can help keep providers’ schedules full, while also reducing your practice’s no-show rate.
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