Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reducing Patient No-Shows Is Now Possible Thanks To Appointment Reminders by Jim Peterson

Patient no-shows is something all medical practices are quite concerned about. We all know that doctors contribute to making our society safer and more health conscious and that is why their profession deserves to be respected and supported.

For this purpose, it is important to note that a medical practice is much more than a place where patients are seen and cured: it is an actual business.

Provided this consideration, we should also keep in mind that the strength of a medical practice is measured upon the number of registered patients and daily visits.

That is why patient no shows is such a big problem, for this phenomenon interrupts the practice's work flow and does not allow the doctor to start the medical billing process, which is of vital importance to the practice. Furthermore, it causes a great deal of stress, considering that all patients will have to wait longer for their visits, hence they will get nervous and continuously approach the medical receptionist's desk to ask explanations.

Does it sound like an exaggeration? It really is not. Whenever you ask a medical receptionist what is the worst aspect of their jobs, most of them will say it is dealing with impatient patients.

So how can a doctor actually reduce patient no-shows?

There are, indeed, several solutions, but only one seems to be the most effective.

Some have suggested doctors should charge patients who miss their appointments, but it is not legal to make people pay for services not given. Moreover, the medical billing process takes time and, anyway, the practice will probably not get completely refunded for the sustained damage due to patient no shows.

So, since we are talking about sanity, the statement "prevention is better than cure" seems to suit perfectly our analysis.

And, in this case, medical appointment reminders are what doctors need to solve their problems once and for all.

Appointment reminders will let every medical receptionist perform their tasks without having to worry about patient no shows, for patients will be reminded of their upcoming appointments by an automated software. Furthermore, medical appointment reminders come in many different solutions, to meet everyone's needs. There are, in fact, appointment reminder calls, e-mails, text messages, along with the more traditional reminder letters and cards.

However, apart from medical appointment reminders, another effective strategy medical practices may adopt to streamline their daily work is analyzing patient no shows statistics. So doing, the medical receptionist will notice and record the types of appointments that are more likely to be missed and schedule them accordingly. For example, if most patients miss a specific appointment type, the medical receptionist could schedule all of them during a period when at least two or three doctors are on duty.

However, this particular strategy, which is called "overbooking", can be applied only after the medical receptionist or the healthcare service provider has observed and studied the practice's patient no show statistics, otherwise the medical office would risk being assaulted by dozens of patients.