Busy ophthalmology practices focused on increasing revenues use a variety of techniques to increase efficiency and maximize reimbursements. Perhaps the lowest hanging fruit for accomplishing this objective is a simple technique that is often overlooked by ophthalmology practices: Effective appointment reminders.
Studies consistently show that a typical office experiences no-show rates ranging from 15 to 25%. This represents more than $5,000 of lost revenue for a small, solo ophthalmology practice. Practices that develop and use an effective appointment reminder process are often able to reduce this no-show rate by up to 10%, which represents thousands of dollars in recouped revenue per month.
An effective appointment reminder process typically exhibits three characteristics: It is consistent, automated, and uses a well-designed message.
First, it is consistent. An effective reminder solution should operate like a clock and consistently remind patients at a specified time interval prior to an appointment. They should also be consistently re-queued for another reminder attempt if the first attempt was unsuccessful.
Second, an effective call reminder service should be automated. An electronic health records system, integrated with a practice management system, should permit this automation. A human-driven process is not desirable because it is far more costly than a technology-driven solution and is also far more susceptible to failure. Automated telephone, email, or text message reminders do not get “sick” or become preoccupied with the tyranny of the urgent in a busy office setting.
Finally, the substance of the message must be well-designed. At a minimum, it should include the name of the office, patient’s first name and date/time of the appointment. It should be no longer than absolutely needed. Also, research has shown that suggesting the opportunity to cancel an appointment leads to an increased level of cancellations; therefore, providing such an option in an automated solution is typically not desirable.
If your ophthalmology practice is not currently employing an effective appointment reminder service, you may want to consider making a small investment in creating one. It is likely that you will find that the return on this investment will be significant.