Setting an appointment with a doctor can be time-consuming. Patients often see it as a hassle to contact their physician to set a date or ask for a consultation—and not everyone has the luxury of time to allot a day solely for a trip to the health clinic.
Doctors also attend to numerous patients every day, leaving little to no time to accommodate walk-ins. A hectic workday is one of the reasons why most clinics have a system wherein patients can set an appointment before their visit. This makes the whole experience more efficient for both the patient and the doctor.
Nowadays, setting an appointment with a doctor is made more convenient. A patient can book a visit to their physician in several ways, including online booking systems, emails, and texts.
Why Appointments Are Necessary
Setting appointments for consultations and treatments is vital because it helps run a medical office more smoothly. It will help prepare all the staff for the day and lessen the stress caused by unexpected clients. When a schedule is set for a certain date, all the staff and the attending physician can focus on their jobs and attend to patients more efficiently. It will also benefit patients who have other commitments or busy schedules.
How Patients Can Set Appointments
There are many ways a patient can set an appointment with the doctor’s office. The medium of communication varies from one health office to another. Some may have a dedicated contact number for patients to reach or an online plotting system to choose their preferred schedule.
First, a patient will contact the doctor’s office to ask for an available time and confirm their attendance by providing the doctor’s office some necessary information.
An appointment is ideally set at least a day before the intended visit. Setting a schedule will also depend on the availability of the doctor.
Email Versus Text
Most offices rely on emails or texts to confirm appointments with their patients. Through these, patients are notified and reminded about their set schedule—including the time, date, and attending physician. While there’s no specific platform that medical offices use to schedule appointments, the medium they use can heavily affect patient attendance.
While there are other methods available, sending emails and text messages are two of the most popular ways to book appointments. Both are effective tools used by many businesses, but it has become more preferable to use text messaging to confirm a patient’s schedule for a busy physician’s office.
According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 99% of texts are read with an average response time of 90 seconds upon receipt. This data is comparatively better than emails. Only 15-25% of emails are opened, with a response time averaging two days.
Nine out of ten people also prefer to contact businesses or get updates and reminders through texts. It’s safe to say that texting is the most convenient and cost-effective tool you can use to schedule appointments and communicate with patients.
The benefits of text appointment reminders make text messaging a go-to option for many clinics in communicating with their patients. It’s cheaper, faster, and more user-friendly.
Because of the immediacy of text messages, those who booked their appointments can receive reminders that they can respond to as soon as possible. Thus, the use of text appointment reminders can lead to better patient engagement.
Advantages Of Using Text Appointment Reminders
Using a booking system for patient consultations is vital in running a clinic. Following a schedule daily will help start and finish all the needed work for the day without missing an appointment. Moreover, an organized booking system will allow a doctor to monitor the patients already consulted and the ones who must be contacted for follow-ups.
It’s also important to remind patients to arrive during their scheduled visit to avoid disrupting the other set schedules. Below are the advantages of using text appointment reminders in improving patient engagement:
- Lessen Cancellations
There are times when clients fail to show up on their scheduled appointment due to unforeseen circumstances. When this happens, the clinic should be informed as soon as possible. The patient can instantly send a message of cancellation and reschedule another visit on a different day. Early notifications of a cancellation or late arrival allow accommodation of other patients who may already be in the office waiting for their slot.
At times, some patients may even forget that they have a scheduled visit to the doctor. Their plans may overlap with their appointments—causing unnecessary stress, thus, they might forget to contact the clinic. This may be a minor inconvenience for them, but a major one for the physician and staff. Their slot could have been used to attend to the waiting patients, if only they were informed of the matter hours before the plotted schedule.
A text reminder helps notify the patients of their appointments in advance. Notifications may be sent days before their schedule or early on the day of their appointment. Should they be unable to attend, they can quickly contact the clinic to reschedule.
- Encourage Regular Visits
Some patients may seek a doctor for conditions they’ve been enduring for a long time. Others will opt to visit a physician once, and after they get an initial treatment and medication, they will no longer come back for follow-ups.
Reaching patients is essential, especially for those who need a specific period of treatment or monitoring. Several illnesses require more than one consultation in order to be diagnosed properly. Medications prescribed to patients can also change depending on how their bodies respond to the treatment.
In addition, there are treatments for serious health conditions that require frequent visits to a physician. Illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, heart and lung problems, among others, require regular consultations. These types of conditions can’t be solved in one session.
This is why it’s vital to encourage patients to book their visits regularly. Text appointments will decrease the hassle of setting a doctor’s appointment. Plus, you can remind them to come back to the clinic, in case they forget to set a regular schedule.
- Save Time
Following a scheduled appointment will prevent patients from waiting for long hours in the clinic. Tardiness can also be avoided. A patient can arrive at the physician’s clinic a few minutes before their slot and leave as soon as they finish.
Absences will also be lessened since a patient will receive a reminder before their schedule. They can either confirm their attendance, let the clinic know they’ll be late for a few minutes, or request for a reschedule.
A text appointment system allows both the doctor and the patient to follow their schedule for the day with minimal disruptions. This efficient system will lead to higher productivity and better client satisfaction.
- Disseminate Information Efficiently
Using a text reminder to contact patients isn’t limited to the confirmation of their appointments. Clinics can also remind their patients about prescribed medications or check up on them regularly through text messages.
There may be instances when a physician needs to cancel all scheduled appointments or close the clinic for a few days. The doctor’s office can inform all the patients about the changed clinic hours through text messaging. There’s no need to call all the patients one by one since you can send these text messages simultaneously. Moreover, there are bulk text message services that can send information to multiple numbers.
Things To Remember Before Texting Your Patients
- Ask for the patient’s consent before sending text appointment reminders. Some people may not like receiving unexpected messages. Furthermore, they may ignore the messages or assume that the reminders are spam.
- Text appointment reminders should include a cancellation option. Some patients may no longer need text reminders after they finish their treatment, so it’s best to have an option where they can opt-out.
- Discuss your clinic policies to avoid mishaps during visits. These may include clinic rules, policies on cancellations, or office hours.
- Refrain from changing and using too many contact numbers. Receiving an appointment reminder from multiple numbers can be confusing for your patients, so stick to one local phone number.
- Keep your messages short. Long messages may confuse or overwhelm your patients, so make them concise and readable.
- Send messages during business hours only. It’s advisable to send a text appointment reminder to your patient during the day. Sending them a text message in the middle of the night may annoy or irritate them.
A physician’s office can only operate efficiently when all its aspects run smoothly as well. Each minute spent in the office needs to be used productively. When a patient fails to attend an appointment, not only will your time be wasted, but your patients will also fail to receive the medical treatment they sorely need.
You can avoid these kinds of inconveniences by using a text appointment reminder to contact your patients and schedule their visits. This way, you can save time and lessen the hassle for both parties.
Overall, clear communication between a doctor and a patient will lead to better services and higher patient satisfaction.