Why Spend Time Confirming Appointments?

Confirming appointments can be a frustrating chore especially after hours of voice mails, unreturned messages, and phone tag. How much time does your office spend confirming appointments? How much time does your office spend leaving messages on patients’ voice mail or with family members? And how many of those patients actually receive the message? Imagine sending a days worth of appointment confirmation reminders to patients with just a click of a button. 

The Bridge Network decided to put the idea of email confirmation to the test for one of our very own seminars. All the attendees and the necessary information (including email addresses) were entered into a fictitious Tracker database. A letter template was created that contained a reminder of all the pertinent information, i.e., date, time, location, seminar topic and presenter, as well as a request confirming their attendance. The recipients were asked to confirm by simply replying ‘Yes’ if they were attending and ‘No’ if they weren’t. Once the letter was completed, the email was sent and the results were as follows:

  • 79% had valid email addresses. Of those,
  • 58% confirmed their attendance by email
  • 42% attendees were confirmed by phone

Sending a reminder confirmation by email rather than phone is advantageous in many ways such as:

  1. Since the patient does not need to be available when an email is sent, there is no need to leave messages, therefore, eliminating ‘phone tag.’
  2. The email can be customized so it contains all the necessary information important to patients such as the reason for the appointment, date and time, directions to the office and office policies, etc.
  3. A log of all emails sent and received is instantly created.
  4. Since the confirmation process is quick and easy, the patient is more likely to confirm.
  5. Because you are sending the email to the actual patient you don’t have to deal with a third party or the possibility of miscommunication.

Over the past few years, communication via email has come a long way. Email is continuously used throughout the day at work and home. Some people even talk through email using their cell phones and PDA’s. While some of your patients may not have email, consider how much time you would save for patients who do and who would prefer you confirm their appointments via email. Even if it’s only a handful of patients, they are patients you don’t have to call.

Online concepts such as Safeguard’s ‘Web to Print’ post-card service prints personalized postcards and even stamps and mails them out for you.  This is a great alternative for patients that do not have email or are not regular email users.  Combining email services, for patients with email, and Safeguards automated post card services for patient without email makes confirming appointments easy and quick.

If the technology is at your finger tips, why not work smart and use it? We did.

Comments

 
By: Tam & Sam
On: 11/07/2007 11:09:36
That would be a great way to reach a percentage of our patients and we would certainly be interested...
 
By: David Balaban
On: 11/13/2007 14:54:56
Excellent article. With technology advancements today there is not one good reason to play telephone tag. It is far too expensive and inefficient. If a patient has an email address (some individuals may not and that has to be recognized) - send a quick message and be done with it. The exception should be a phone call, not the rule.

Great piece Dalida -

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