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Automated appointment reminders lead to fewer no-shows

MGMA Stat - February 28, 2019

Quality & Patient Experience

Health Information Technology

Nick Fabrizio PhD, FACMPE, FACHE

The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders if their organization uses automated appointment reminders. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) responded “yes,” while just 11% responded “no." The remaining 1% were “unsure”. This poll was conducted on February 26, 2019, with 1,475 applicable responses.

Respondents whose organizations use automated appointment reminders were then asked where they see the ROI with this service. They stated that using these reminders results in:
 
  • Higher revenue
  • Lower no-show rate
  • Better patient compliance
  • Better appointment utilization
  • Fewer unfilled appointments
  • The ability to see more patients
  • More time for staff  

Practices and other healthcare organizations that effectively communicate with patients through automated appointment reminders are more efficient and have improved patient compliance. The majority of practices surveyed indicate that automated appointment reminders reduce no-shows and save staff time spent confirming appointments, which improves efficiency and productivity.

As Nick A. Fabrizio, PhD, FACMPE, FACHE, principal, MGMA Consulting, states, "today’s patients expect appointment reminders through telephone calls or texts prior to their appointment. After all, automated appointment reminders have become the norm for almost every service industry. Most healthcare organizations have transitioned to appointment reminders via text messaging, which is even more efficient and effective than voice messaging."
 
As noted in the MGMA Research & Analysis report, Maximizing Patient Access and Scheduling, MGMA members have offered a variety of tips for handling your organization’s patient reminder strategy, including:
 
  • Differentiate between landline and cell phone numbers for patients who have opted in to the service so that any automated system your practice uses can accommodate patient preferences for a call or text message.
  • If you have a system for confirming appointments, regularly monitor the confirmation rate and ensure that any email confirmation systems for cancelling appointments become unusable once the patient is within the no-show policy’s window of incurring a fee.
  • If you use a text message reminder, ensure you have straightforward text that is easy to comprehend so that patients can respond with a simple “yes” or “no.”
  • Consider staggering reminders if you opt for multiple methods. For example, send an email reminder five days prior to an appointment, followed by a phone call three days in advance and a text message a day before or the morning of an appointment.
 
MGMA Stat is a national poll that addresses practice management issues, the impact of new legislation and related topics. Participation is open to all healthcare leaders. Results of other polls and information on how to participate in MGMA Stat are available at: http://www.mgma.com/stat
 
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About the Author

Nick Fabrizio
Nick Fabrizio PhD, FACMPE, FACHE
Consultant MGMA Consulting

Nick A. Fabrizio, PhD, FACMPE, FACHE, is a consultant with the MGMA Health Care Consulting Group. He has more than 20 years of practice management and health system experience in private physician and large medical group practices, for-profit and non-profit hospitals and health systems, academic medical centers, physician faculty practice plans and ambulatory care networks. His primary expertise is in physician practice management and managing complex physician-hospital relationships.

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