One week from today, I have an upcoming appointment for my eye doctor. When I booked the annual appointment last year, the doctor’s office wrote the date and time of my future appointment on a business card. This method of reminders is common among dentists, healthcare providers, and medical practices in general. I lost the appointment reminder card almost immediately and hoped that the office would give me a reminder call so that I wouldn’t be a no-show.
Last week, I received a call from the doctor's office manager. She was kind and told me to make sure to bring my contacts and glasses. She then asked me if I wanted to update my contact information to include a landline phone number. I do not have a landline, and instead I use my cell phone for all communications. After we hung up, I put the appointment into my calendar. Fifteen minutes later, I received a text message reminder for the appointment, asking me to confirm the appointment that I had already confirmed. The next day, I received an email reminder that was a follow-up, asking me to confirm, for a third time. At this point I was frustrated by the redundancy.
The first moment that I realize that the medical office relied on antiquated systems was when the receptionist hand wrote the appointment reminder on a business card and handed it to me. Medical practices and other offices have been writing appointment reminders on cards for decades. Appointment reminder software makes this use of pen and paper obsolete. If I had received a text message confirmation, then with a click of a button on my phone the appointment would have been added to my calendar, which would prevent me from accidentally adding the appointment to the wrong day or time.
I promptly lost the reminder card and I realized that I did not have the office’s phone number in my cell phone to make a phone call. I looked it up online, but these extra steps were slightly annoying. I decided to wait it out and hope that the office would send me a notification. Worst case scenario, I thought, I would call when the date got closer.
Fast forward one year and I received a phone call from my doctor’s office to follow-up. Then I received a sms. And then I received an email reminder. I was frustrated by the lack of functionality and felt that patient communication was obviously not a priority for the office, though they obviously wanted to cut down on missed appointments. I felt that the office was inefficient and also did not understand my needs. I frequently run from meeting to meeting, and so text message appointment reminders are perfect for me. I am able to see the message and confirm the appointment in real-time. I am even more impressed if a medical office sends two-way text reminders that I can respond to. All of this is possible through sms, so that I don’t need to leave a meeting to answer a phone call.
When I arrived at my annual eye exam, I told the office manager about the redundant communication and she shook her head. "I know. I’ve tried to ask the doctor to use an appointment reminder service but he says he doesn’t want to pay for it.” I told her that I also received a text and an email. She looked even more frustrated as she described how making appointment reminder calls disrupts her workflow as an office manager, stating that she was not hired to schedule appointments. She rattled off a list of reasons that an appointment reminder system would improve the functionality of the office. She continued that patient appointment reminders, especially with automation, reduces the no-show rate, which can increase revenue for the office. After my exam, however, the office manager prompted me to schedule my appointment for next year, and wrote it down on a business card, yet again. By the end of the day, I misplaced the card and the process started again.
When an office worker wears too many hats, i.e., receptionist, manager, or practitioner, the office functionality suffers. While there is patient engagement with this type of job, the workers are overwhelmed by the number and variety of tasks that they must complete. Medical appointment reminders do not need to be completed by a worker, but can be automated. At Reminderly, we understand these frustrations from the office and the client, which is why we offer flexible pricing, message templates, and customizable messages which are appropriate for a variety of appointment types. Our scheduling software is easy to use, so that even offices that have not yet been updated with new technology, are able to manage it.
Instead of receiving three methods of communication from my eye doctor, with Reminderly, I could have received two: one after booking the appointment initially, and another as the appointment approached. With this method, I can easily search in my phone or email “appointment” or “appointment reminder” to locate the forgotten appointment, unlike a hand-written business card.
The use of automated appointment reminders, even and especially for medical practices sends multiple congruent signals to patients. The first is that the office cares about patient communication and patient satisfaction - not all patients want to communicate with the office in the same way. Reminderly offers flexibility to change the text and change communication methods. It also signals to patients that the office is up-to-date with software and technology.
Appointment reminders also help increase patient satisfaction. As a patient, I cannot overstate how important this is to me. I value when I know that the office is invested, not only in my health, but also in my satisfaction. With Reminderly, let us take care of appointment reminders so that you can take care of your patients.