In 2016, OpenMarket published a study providing insight into the digital habits of millennials. Of nearly 500 millennials, 75% reported that they’d be willing to forego the call function on their cell phones if they still had the power to text! This generation prefers texts over phone calls. Phone calls require people to disrupt whatever they’re doing, while a simple text message does what a phone call does without interrupting.
Additionally, the phone call situation is not getting any better with the recent advent of spam calls. People are increasingly ignoring their phones calls. Text messages, on the other hand, have an astonishing 97% open rate!
So, as a healthcare practice, how do you take advantage of this changing landscape? You should communicate with your patients via text messages, of course! The simplest way to ease into texting patients is through your appointment reminders. Instead of having your staff (or robocalls) manually call each and every patient, automate text message reminders.
Getting started with text reminders initially can be confusing. Is it effective? What are the best times to send text reminders? How many texts is too many?
While you never want to overwhelm or annoy your patients with countless texts, we recommend sending four text reminders prior to your patients’ appointments. Here are some best practices we recommend here at NexHealth:
- First, we recommend a 1 month text reminder. This allows your patients to mark their calendar far ahead of the date of their appointment.
- Second, we recommend sending a one-week reminder. Letting your patients know a week ahead that they have an appointment with you. This allows your patients to plan their weeks appropriately.
- Third, a confirmation text, 24 hours before your patient’s appointment should be sent to prevent any possible or previously-scheduled conflicts. Additionally, it will also allow the patient to take note of their appointment one day ahead if it did happen to slip their minds.
- Fourth, a reminder sent an hour or two before your patient’s appointment on the day of the appointment should be sent to further avoid any emergency or last-minute cancellation or forgetting.
Additionally, it’s impossible to predict who’s going to be a chronic cancelling or no-show patient. If a patient has two or more cancellations or no-shows on his or her record, do not schedule those patients under prime time appointment slots. Those slots should be allotted to patients who properly utilize your practice’s reminder system and actually show up for their exam.
What if a patient does miss their appointment even after confirming? We recommend sending the patient a text follow up nudging them to reschedule that appointment.
Texting is how this generation communicates, and keeping with this new way of doings things is far easier than you might think!