Like all healthcare businesses, dental offices rely heavily on the timely flow of patients. If someone is running late, it can set off a domino effect of other delayed appointments. Even worse, when a patient is a no-show, that represents lost revenue and an unused time slot. Plus, staff time will likely need to be spent trying to contact the missing patient, perhaps charging a no-show fee, and seeing if they want to reschedule.
Using automated appointment reminder software from a service like Reminderly, you can dramatically decrease the number of missed appointments your practice has to deal with every week. It’s as simple as developing a few templates customized to your practice, and allowing Reminderly to do the work of contacting your patients all year round. Taking this step will boost your bottom line as would-be no-shows become paying patients, and it will also reduce hassle for your dentists, hygienists, and front office staff. Furthermore, it will lead to happier dental patients, because more than four in five people say they want appointment reminders.
In this blog post, we’ll look at why text messaging can be a particularly effective channel for dental appointment reminders. At the bottom of this post are a series of text message reminder templates for various scenarios encountered by dental offices. There you’ll find SMS appointment reminder templates for:
An appointment reminder system like Reminderly allows your dental practice to contact patients about their upcoming appointments using any or all of these three channels:
There’s lots to consider in terms of which channel or channels will be best for your particular clientele, and it’s often a good idea to overlap channels to make sure you’re catching as many patients as possible—and thereby lowering your no-show rate as close to zero as possible. That said, consumer trends suggest that business text messaging is increasingly popular and should be a part of any dental office’s patient reminder strategy. Let’s look at three reasons why...
Convenience is the #1 factor why increasing numbers of patients prefer text messaging for their healthcare communications. It’s easy to check one’s cellphone throughout the day and to decide whether to engage a given text immediately or at a later time.
Let’s imagine, for example, that John has a dental cleaning this afternoon. He’s in the midst of a hectic workday when he gets his patient appointment reminder via text message. It takes him just a few seconds to check the text and confirm that he can make the appointment time—something he can do without his colleagues or clients feeling that he’s not paying attention. By contrast, he would likely screen a phone call, and he would be less likely to notice or open an email.
If John had forgotten about today’s appointment, he’s now much more likely to come. If he was planning to flake on the appointment, the reminder might cause him to come. Or, if he still feels he needs to cancel, he’ll do so with several hours’ notice rather than giving a last-minute cancellation or simply being a no-show. That gives John’s dentist a better chance of filling the slot from their wait list—something else Reminderly can help with through our automated wait list manager.
Whereas many people—especially younger folks—increasingly experience unexpected phone calls as intrusive, text messages are a much quieter and less time consuming way to receive notifications. Even more importantly, whereas email open rates are often abysmally low, people usually read 90% or more of their text messages within 15 minutes.
Text messages also have much higher click-through rates than email. This can be important, for instance, if you are asking a new patient to fill out intake paperwork prior to their appointment. They are more likely to click that link in a text message than in an email.
A third major benefit of text messaging is that it facilitates easy two-way communication. With Reminderly, your patients can communicate back to you via email or phone call as well, but many of them will prefer the easy functionality of text communication. That can be for confirming or cancelling, asking a question regarding their appointment, or requesting to reschedule.
Your patients will love having the ability to text you back right away, while it’s top-of-mind for them. And their messages will be aggregated in a communications hub so that you can respond when you have time, perhaps addressing a number of patient questions at once.
At many dental offices, a high percentage of appointments are for standard check-ups that often have been scheduled weeks or months in advance. Because of the lag time between scheduling and the appointment date, it’s crucial that you follow-up with your patients to receive appointment confirmations from them. Here’s a standard, succinct template to do just that.
Hi <patient name>, this is <dentist name or practice name> reminding you about your cleaning scheduled for <day, date> at <time>. Please respond Confirm or Cancel. Text back or call <business phone number> with any questions.
Dental offices also typically face the issue of patients who have neglected to schedule their next appointment, and perhaps are avoiding doing so. With Reminderly, it’s incredibly easy to make this group a segment of your patient list and send out periodic reminders such as the following, which can also include some soft persuasion.
Hi <patient name>, this is <dentist name or practice name> sending a friendly reminder that you’re due for a cleaning. Regular cleanings are the best way to keep your mouth healthy and your teeth looking great—and, they save money compared with waiting till you notice a problem. Please text or call this number and we’ll find an appointment date that works for you.
The quick nature of text messages means they are in some ways more constrained than emails or phone calls in terms of conveying your brand identity. That said, even in sms reminders, you can apply small touches in terms of tone and use of emojis to establish a friendly, fun connection with your patients.
🦷🦷🦷 Hi <patient name>, this is <dentist name or practice name> reminding you about your cleaning scheduled for <day, date> at <time>. Please respond Confirm or Cancel, and text back or call <business phone number> with any questions. Thanks, and we look forward to helping you keep up your pearly whites! 🦷🦷🦷
Receiving patient feedback in an ongoing manner is critical to ensure that you know what’s working and what could be going better for your clientele. Reminderly can automate post-appointment surveys to collect this data, and we are also able to aggregate positive reviews on your website and/or social media pages—a huge step for positive online presence.
Thanks for choosing <practice name> for your recent procedure. We’d love to know how you think we’re doing. Please respond on a scale of 0-10 how likely you are to recommend us to a friend. Thank you!
Hi <patient name>, this is <sender name,> the office manager for <dentist name>. We’re so glad you chose <practice name> for your recent procedure, and we’d love if you would take <this brief survey> to let us know how we’re doing. It only takes a few minutes, and if you can spare that time, we really appreciate it!