There are many ways to remind patients about their doctors’ appointments if you yourself are a doctor, nurse, or any other kind of professional health care provider. If you are reading this from the perspective of a patient, never fear! This guide aims to be useful to everybody! We all know what it’s like to forget something important.
Frustrating, inconvenient, potentially damaging – everybody hates it. The worst part of it is certainly that stupid feeling of “Oh wait – I am aware of having forgotten a thing – but I haven’t the faintest possible clue how to remember what I’ve forgotten.” We are willing to bet you a freshly ironed DIY face mask that you have, at least a few times in your life, felt this on the threshold of a room! This is actually a scientifically recognized phenomenon, which has been appropriately dubbed “the doorway effect.” Learn more about it in this article.
With all that said, reminders centered on medical patients are still sort of odd to consider. After all, texting and IM-ing with one’s chosen doctor still isn’t entirely mainstream. Yet that is exactly what we will be discussing today: software. Forget phone calls and even emails. We want apps and good platforms that are reliable, flexible, confidential, fast, intuitive, and optimized for mobile devices.
When you decide to start browsing for one, arm yourself with the proper information that will allow you to make more discerning choices. Here are the essential factors to keep in mind when choosing a patient appointment reminder software.
If you are a medical professional:
If you own, operate, or work at a healthcare practice or hospital system, pick a patient appointment reminder program that is the most tailored to your particular needs. What area of medicine are you dedicated to? A dental practice will not need the same things as an eye care facility. Yes, the basic functions would be the same wherever you look, but it is their implementation we are talking about here.
For example, a dental clinic will certainly want to have alternatives to voice messages. What if someone in toothy agony wants to schedule? You wouldn’t force them into a phone call, would you? Look for text-to-speech extensions and scheduling templates that will let your patients provide all needed information for their reminders by typing alone.
Conversely, eye care patients might require larger in-software font, muted backgrounds and the option to enable a dark view, night mode, blue light filter, or all of the above. You might also consider the text-to-speech functionality so that the message will be heard if it cannot be read.
Consider what it is that you need, and what your patients will need, and find the software that matches that. Cut down the number of no-shows, streamline the confirmations, and possibly even process payments.
If you are a patient:
In addition to everything we mention above (dark mode and other conveniences), always look up how the reminder software you are interested in handles the security of your health data. It must comply with the HIPAA (short for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, for everyone who hasn’t seen that acronym before). Learn more about what that is and what it entails at this web page by the
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html
In addition, whether you are a patient or a healthcare provider, here are some more general software things you ought to consider.
Flexibility and customization options
A patient appointment reminder software needs to have messaging functionality that is both flexible and customizable. This translates to features such as scheduled sending, a well balanced mix of template and freeform replies, and the ability to edit previously sent and delivered messages within a given time frame.
Real time synchronization with the Electronic health record
The best patient appointment reminder software will have real time, two way flow, impeccable interaction with the Electronic health record, or the EHR for short. This is important for the sake of quickly completing administrative communication which could become detrimental if let unattended for too long.
The best example of this would when a person cancels their appointment. Information about that should be fast-forwarded directly to the EHR, without you or your staff having any additional work on account of it.
Appointment reminder software by Relatient is one good example of synch times and flexibility. Keep in mind that the EHR also stores other individual-based patient data, for example, the language they prefer to interact in. Storing such data enables the software to integrate it into its response, so patients will always get a reply in a language they know! This is brilliant support for the foreign, undereducated, or elderly users.
A messaging function that’s conversational
In other words, you want it being a two-way street, just like the EHR record. You want your patients to be able to text you back (because there is always something). When you buzz them to remind them about their appointment, patients will often have questions about the it and whether there is any preparation necessary. It’ more convenient to text about tit though, because staff can answer quicker and patients will have the answers they need safely “written down” for future reference.
A step up from this would be a more modern solution that would feature a conversational chatbot integrated into the system, which could respond to frequent questions, and call on living staff to fix things when it is necessary.
Whatever software you choose, the system should be able and ready to give out automatic responses when it knows the answer to the patients’ questions. And if it doesn’t know? Then ask someone who does: get you an app or program that will alert a member of the staff or relevant professional to the inquiry.
Proper communication service
In order for this approach to appointment management to actually work, you need to have more than just software in your hands. You have to balance it with genuine humanity, because these are humans in dire straits that the apps are meant for. Imagine someone sick and distraught getting only a generic machine in the answers. Stress levels would skyrocket.
So, when you go choosing your reminder program or platform, take the time to look for one that features communication experts. Even just knowing how to give the right tone to a text message will improve communication and increase confirmation rates.
On that note, pay attention to the language you use in these texts. Things like the length of messages, using people’s first names (or not), and how you apply punctuation are all subtle language cues that will affect how patients feel and consequently how they respond.
Are the reports customizable?
Keep an eye on your metrics! The best patient appointment reminder software will track your analytics and offer customizable reports. Look for one that will measure all responses (confirmations, cancellations, rescheduling). Then use that to track no-show trends and payment timeliness. You’ll also gain insight into the optimal time to message patients before an appointment.
What do the reviews say?
Before you make up your mind on any software, read reviews from its end-users. See what all the features are like on the level of daily use. Does the program deliver? Look for reviews of the following things:
User friendliness and mobile optimization of the platform, stability of the software (how often people complain about bugs, glitches, freezes, and crashes), ease of navigation (is it intuitive? Does the organization of options make sense?).
How is their customer service? Do they address issues promptly, is the staff friendly, are they well-organized? Do they pay genuine attention to user feedback? All of these factors come together to inform your best possible software choice.