Enough with the appointment reminders

26Jul11

In what is presumably an effort to reduce the number of patients who make an appointment and then forget to show up, many doctors are using automated reminder systems. Typically, this takes the form of a phone call a few days before the appointment, in which a recorded voice asks you to confirm the date and time. I’ve also seen a variant where they send a printed letter a week in advance, in addition to calling you.

This is all fine and good, but it’s overkill in a lot of cases. For instance, if a patient has been with you for a while and has never missed an appointment time, do they really need to get a letter and phone call for every subsequent visit? I fall into this category, and find these types of reminders a bit annoying. After years of showing up on time, the implication that I would suddenly start forgetting about appointments is actually rather insulting.

What’s the solution? At the end of your normal reminder calls and letters, give your most punctual patients the ability to opt-out. For instance, you might say something like this: “If you have been on-time to your last 3 appointments and would prefer not to receive these appointment reminders, please let us know.” That way, you’re giving patients control over what would otherwise be a highly impersonal aspect of their experience, which should help build a greater level of trust and loyalty in the long run.



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