Scheduling and rescheduling appointments can be a time-consuming and monotonous task for your staff that can very easily be automated, saving your team time and your practice money!

Empowering patients to schedule their appointments with the click of a button makes it extremely convenient and accessible, makes them less dependent on your office hours, and limits your administrative staff’s time on the phone. This removes the tedium and frustration from appointment booking, making it a simple and easy process for your practice, removing friction and increasing conversions.

In this article, along with discussing the obvious benefits of using an automated appointment reminder system for your practice, we will be sharing some templates and examples that you can use for your practice.

Let’s dive right into learning everything that there is to know about automated reminders so you can give your patients the best healthcare experience, increase ROI, and grow your practice.

How appointment cancellations and no-shows affect your bottom line

According to research conducted by SCI Solutions, missed appointments cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $150 billion every year. While you may think this number is alarmingly high, it shows how missed appointments affect your practice’s bottom line. The fact is, most clinics experience a no-show rate of between 5% and 30%, with each missed appointment slot costing the average physician $200.

Another 2016 study found that nearly 38% of patients forgot about their appointment or didn’t know they had one, another 16% had personal issues that prevented them from attending their appointment, and nearly 7% said that they had no way to get to their appointment. In all of these cases, an automated reminder would either ensure that the patient attends, or gives you the opportunity to fill that space (in the case where they cannot make their appointment).

Here’s an easy formula to calculate the amount of revenue you are losing every month to no-shows to see how it is affecting your bottom line:

Formula to calculate average revenue lost due to patient no-shows

While missed appointments will never fully go away, no-shows significantly impact your revenue, and you should do everything you can to reduce missed appointments and fill these time-slots.

8 benefits of using automated appointment reminders to reduce patient no-shows

The most important task that automated appointment reminders achieve is freeing up mental space for the staff to focus on less mundane work that contributes directly towards increasing the productivity of the practice. Below are a number of ways that patient reminders can reduce no-shows:

  1. Minimize revenue loss: Automated appointment reminders help practices make the most of their available time slots so that there are fewer no-shows and cancellations, thereby minimizing the potential loss in revenue.
  2. Reduce no-shows: Email and text reminders sent on the day of the appointment have a higher chance of being seen by the patient than a phone call. Patients are more likely to attend, even if this is only because they know they can’t use the excuse that they forgot their appointment.
  3. Reduce cancellations: Receiving automated alerts in advance leaves patients ample time to cancel appointments, and gives you the chance to fill that cancelled time slot with another appointment.
  4. Lower waiting lists: As practices and patients get better at using the alerts to optimize no-shows and cancellations, fewer patients will see themselves waiting for an available appointment, allowing practices to process more appointments. This not only offers patients a better experience, but allows practices to grow their patient-base.
  5. Increase staff efficiency: Since appointment scheduling and reminders can be automated, it leaves the staff to focus on other important tasks to make the patients’ clinic experience pleasant and hassle-free.
  6. Keep your calendar filled up: As patients receive regular updates to schedule, reschedule, or cancel their appointments, practices can move up patients to keep their schedules full.
  7. An open line of communication with your patients: Regular communication from the practice lets the patients know how to quickly get in touch with their physician in case of an emergency. Email and text reminders are a non-invasive way of reminding patients about their appointments.
  8. Expand clinic hours without extra staff time: Since the automated reminders can go out at a designated time set by you, which could be outside of business hours, it is more likely that patients will see them.

Choosing the best channel for your patient reminders (email, text, or phone)

While everyone’s preferences are different, it was found that millennials and younger patients preferred text reminders to phone calls. Older patients like the personal touch and prefer receiving phone call reminders. So, depending on your practice and the audience that you cater to, you can choose the right channel that works best for you to avoid no-shows and cancellations.

Benefits and pitfalls of different channels for appointment alerts

Patient reminder templates and examples for doctors and dentists

In this section of the article, you can find “plug and play” templates that you can use for your practice based on the communication type, medium, and tone that you share with your patients. Since this may vary from practice to practice, we have it sorted by medium (email or text) and ‘by tone’.

Whether you are sending out a medical or dental appointment reminder SMS or email, check out the following tips and templates that can give you a headstart in drafting your own message.

Text and SMS patient reminder templates and examples

The following tips and reminder templates can give you an idea of the kind of text reminders that other practices send to their patients to keep their no-shows and cancellation rates down. First, we’ll give you some basic tips to follow for your messaging, and then give you clear examples that you can use yourself!

    • Keep it short and clear: A reminder text should not be more than 1-2 sentences and should only contain relevant information to the appointment, including the name of the physician and the date and time of the appointment.
    • Always have a call to action: Leaving your recipients with an action that they need to take (like responding with a Yes or a No), reduces the chance of them forgetting about the appointment.
    • Make sure it is HIPPA compliant: Do not include details such as the reason for the appointment and treatment plans, since text messaging is not an entirely secure form of communication and there is no way to ensure that the messages aren’t accessed by those other than the intended recipient once it reaches the mobile device. In an event of a breach, if patient health information is exposed, the practice could face penalties and fines.
    • Let your brand’s voice shine through: The text message that you send should reflect the same tone of voice that you share with your patients and your identity as a practice.
    • Remind them of the no-show policy: Be upfront and clear with your customers about what your rescheduling and cancellation policy is, as they will be more likely to cancel or reschedule sooner if they know that there is a fee involved.
    • Verify phone number periodically: Always double-check with your patients when they come in for a visit to make sure that you have their correct phone and email information on file.
    • Give them the option to opt-out: Your patients may have chosen to sign up to receive text messaging from your business, but their preferences could have changed. Sending a simple text message like “Reply STOP to unsubscribe from future texts” can suffice.

1. The basics

Straight to business! Give them all the information they need in a simple, clean, concise package.

Message:
Your appointment to see Dr. [Physician’s name] on [date] at [time] at [Location / Business name] has been confirmed.

Reply “C” to confirm your appointment. Thanks!

2. A friendly touch

Patient satisfaction is all about giving them proper care and attention – in all facets of service. Adding a personal touch can make a big difference in customer satisfaction and retention.

Message:
Hello [Patient’s First Name]! Dr. [Physician’s Name] here. Just wanted to send you a friendly reminder that you’re scheduled to see me on [date] at [time] at [Location / Business name].

Reply “C” to confirm your appointment. Looking forward to seeing you!

3. Emoji Reminder

Use emojis to lighten the tone of your messaging and connect with your patients better. This lets you use a friendly, casual tone with your patients and add a little flair to bland messages.

Message:
🦷 Reminder that you’re scheduled to see Dr. [Dentist’s Name] on [date] at [time] at [Location / Business name]. 🦷

Reply “C” to confirm your appointment. 🙌🏻

4. One-week reminder

Sending out a one-week reminder helps patients plan their week, and also gives them enough time to reschedule or cancel if they need to due to other commitments.

Message:
Hi there! We are looking forward to seeing you. You’re scheduled to see Dr. [Physician’s Name] next week on [date] at [time] at [Location / Business name]. 

Reply “Y/N” to let us know if this is still a good time.

5. 24-hour reminder

A one day notice helps patients mentally prepare for the day of their appointment, plan logistic details such as how to get there, the best route to take, what time to leave from their home or work, and how to manage their workday, meetings, and family commitments around the appointment.

Message:
It’s almost time! You’re scheduled to see Dr. [Physician’s name] tomorrow at [time] at [Location / Business name].

Reply “Y/N” to let us know if this is still a good time.

6. Virtual appointment starting now

Due to the pandemic, many medical clinics have adopted virtual appointments for consultations and (in some cases) treatment. Sending out a reminder right at the time of the appointment along with the link to join the meeting makes it extremely convenient for patients to join.

Message:
Hi [Patient’s Name]. Just reminding you that your virtual appointment for [time] is about to begin in 10 minutes. Please join via your computer or phone here: [Meeting Link].

7. Schedule your next appointment

Most people procrastinate to book their appointment if they need to make a call to do so. Sending a link for patients to schedule their appointment themselves gives them the freedom to book their time slot at their convenience as they are not bound by office hours.

Message:
Hi [Patient’s Name]. We hope you have been in good health since your appointment on [date]. We recommend a follow-up with our experts again every [time period i.e. X weeks]. Please schedule your next appointment here: [Link to scheduler].

8. Missed appointment

If your patient missed their scheduled appointment, proactively sending a reminder can help them start the rescheduling process faster, rather than waiting for them to call to do the same.

Message:
Hi [Patient’s Name]. We missed you at your [appointment type] today at [time]. Please give us a call so we can help reschedule your appointment

[Phone Number]

9. Feedback Request

From time to time, you should collect feedback from your patients about their experience in the office, their treatment and care, and any suggestions on how to improve.

Message:
Hi [Patient’s Name]. We hope you enjoyed your treatment with Dr. [Physician’s Name]. We’d love to get your feedback. Fill out this survey to tell us how it went: [Survey Link]

10. Reschedule an appointment

Giving patients the option to reschedule their appointment with a link ensures that the patient can book their appointment at their convenience and avoids the hassle of calling into the office and waiting on the phone.

Message:
Hi [Patient’s Name]! We received your request to reschedule your appointment. Use this link to reschedule: [Link to scheduler]. Give us a call at [Phone Number] if you have any questions!

Email patient reminder templates and examples

While sending out email reminders to your patients, communicating the date and time clearly should be the most important, as email open rates are much lower than text messages. In fact, health and fitness industry emails have an average open rate of only 21%.

Check out the following tips and examples to give you a starting point to draft one for your practice to keep the no-shows and cancellation rate low.

  • Clearly mention the date and time: While sending out an appointment reminder email, make sure to add the date and time clearly either at the beginning or end of the email and on the subject line. You may choose to highlight it in bold so that the patient doesn’t miss those details while skimming through the email.
  • Keep the email short and precise: Only mention information that is essential to the appointment.
  • Give an Add to Calendar CTA: Since most people are on the go and check their emails on their phone, giving them an option to add the appointment to their calendar can ensure that they’ll get another notification on their phone closer to the time when they are supposed to leave for the appointment.
  • Choosing the right time to send the email: In a 2021 study it was found that most people check their emails at key transition times throughout the day, such as when they start their day (8 AM), during or after their lunch break (1 PM), near the end of the workday (4 PM), or during their evening commute (6 PM). Sending emails at these times will ensure higher open rates.
  • Use bullet points: If there are multiple instructions, make sure they are listed in short bullet points so that they are easier to follow.
  • Keep it consistent: If you have a practice sending a 1-day reminder or a same-day reminder email, make sure to follow the same practice as your patients will expect. They may forget to keep their appointment if they don’t receive an email from you.

1. The basics

To keep the focus just on the time and date of the appointment, practices can choose to send an email reminder that just mentions those details and cuts out any other extra information that isn’t as important to include.

Subject line: Reminder: Appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name] on [date]

Message:
Dear [Patient’s Name],

You have an appointment with [Physician’s Name] on [date] at [time]. Please be at the office [5 minutes] before your appointment. In case you cannot make your appointment, please call our office at [Phone number] as soon as possible.

We look forward to seeing you!

Sincerely,
[Practice Name]

2. A friendly touch

If you define the tone of your practice as ‘friendly’, then your in-person, as well as electronic communication, should speak that way. This helps your patients know how to respond to you in case of any issues that they may have.

Subject line: Hi [Patient’s Name], your appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name] is coming up!

Message:
Hey [Patient’s First Name],

This is a friendly reminder of your appointment on [date] at [time] with Dr. [Physician’s Name]. We have a few other things we’d like to remind to you as well:

  • Don’t forget to bring your [Important Document].
  • We encourage you to arrive [5 minutes] before your appointment.
  • If you are running late, please call the office at [Phone Number] to let us know.

If you are unable to make your appointment, please call our office at [Phone Number] as soon as possible. 

See you on [date]!

Sincerely,
[Practice Name]

3. Emoji Reminder

Whichever age group your patients belong to, everyone understands the emoji language. Highlighting the key points in fewer words and some emojis rather than sending lengthy and tedious emails with an overload of information can convey a lot of information while also being playful and light.

Subject line: Hey [Patient’s Name]! Don’t forget your 🦷 appointment on [date]

Message:
Dear [Patient’s Name]

It’s almost time! ⏰

We’re so excited to see you on [date] at [time] for your 🦷 appointment. We want you to have a stress-free and smooth visit while you are here. Because you are so awesome😎, we know you’ll remember to bring [Important Document] 📄 and show up [15 minutes] early!

See you soon!🙌🏻

[Practice Name]

4. One-week reminder

By sending out a reminder a week in advance, your patients can plan their other commitments better. Adding a CTA like ‘Add to Calendar’ to the message can let your patients add it to their Google, iCal, or Outlook calendar so that they can see it on their devices and they won’t forget about their appointment.

Subject line: Upcoming appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name] on [date]

Message:

Dear [Patient’s Name],

We wanted to remind you of your upcoming appointment on [date] at [time] with Dr. [Physician’s Name]. Your health is important to us, so we’d like to remind you of a few things to make your visit pleasant.

  • Please remember to show up [15 minutes] early.
  • Please carry your [Important Document] with you.

If you are more than [15 minutes] late, we may have to reschedule to avoid getting backed up. Kindly inform us in advance of any such situations.

In case of any queries or rescheduling requests, please contact us at [Phone Number] and let us know as soon as you can.

Click on [Add to Calendar] to add this meeting to your calendar.

Hope you have a happy and healthy day!

[Practice Name]

5. 24-hour reminder

A 24-hour reminder is very useful if you don’t see your patients very often, as they can plan their day to accommodate the appointment. For your regulars, receiving a reminder might be a habit that they are expecting to help them prepare for their visit.

Subject line: Your appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name] is tomorrow!

Message:
Dear [Patient’s Name],

We wanted to remind you of your appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name] tomorrow at [time]. Your health is important to us, so please contact us at [Phone Number] if you have any questions or concerns. Please arrive [15 minutes] before your appointment and don’t forget to bring your [Important Document].

Thanks,

[Practice Name]

6. Virtual appointment starting now

Forgetting about virtual appointments is very easy, since there is no travel or preparation that is required. Now that people see themselves sitting in front of the screen more than ever, sending a reminder about a virtual appointment just before or at the time of the meeting helps patients quickly hop on without moving from their seats.

Subject line: Your virtual appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name] is about to begin!

Message:
Hi [Patient Name],

Your video consultation meeting with Dr. [Physician’s Name] is about to begin in 5 minutes!  Please join through your phone or computer using the following link: [Meeting link]. 

Please make sure you have your [Important document] in case [Physician’s Name] wants to discuss your results.

See you soon!

[Practice Name]

7. Schedule your next appointment

If your patient didn’t schedule their next appointment while they were at the office, sending a reminder with a link to book their appointment according to their convenience can help fill up your schedule.

Subject line: Don’t wait to book your next appointment!

Message:
Dear [Patient’s Name],

We hope you are doing well and are keeping up with your health goals.

We noticed that it has been over 2 months since we saw you and we thought that you’d like to schedule your next appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name].

Click here to book your next appointment: [Link to online scheduler]

If you prefer picking up the phone to schedule your next visit, please call us at [Phone Number] anytime Monday to Friday between 9 AM – 4 PM.

Looking forward to your visit!
[Practice Name]

8. Missed appointment

Despite your best efforts, some patients will still miss their appointments. If your patients miss their appointment, they may not know the next steps; should they call you to book their next appointment or expect a call from your office to reschedule?

Sending a note acknowledging the missed appointment with their next course of action can help fill up your calendar.

Subject line: You missed your appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name] on [date]

Message:
Dear [Patient’s Name]

Looks like you missed your appointment with Dr. [Physician Name] on [date] at [time]. 

We would like to let you know that as per our no-show policy, we charge a $[X] fee for all missed appointments. This fee will be charged to your credit card that we have on our file in the next [3-5] business days.

To schedule your next appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name], please use our [Link to online scheduler] to check all the available time slots under the [“Book an appointment”] option.

In case of any queries, please feel free to call us at the office at [Phone Number].

Look forward to seeing you!

[Practice Name]

9. Feedback request

Gaining feedback from patients is extremely useful, as it helps you identify areas of improvement and enhance both your service and the patient experience. After you’ve had a patient in, send them a follow-up email like the one below requesting that they submit a review of their experience and your practice as a whole.

Subject line: Please leave a review of your experience with [Practice Name]

Message:
Hi [Patient’s Name],

You recently visited us at [Practice Name] on [date] at [time] with Dr. [Physician’s Name]. We would love to get feedback about your experience!

If you’re willing, please complete our survey here: [Link to survey]

Alternatively, you can leave a review on any of the following review websites:

  • [Review site]: [Link to leave a review on this review site]
  • [Review site]: [Link to leave a review on this review site]
  • [Review site]: [Link to leave a review on this review site]

We greatly appreciate your feedback, as it helps us offer you better care and service with each visit!

10. Reschedule an appointment

Whether your patient was a no-show or canceled ahead of time, you’ll want to make sure they come back to receive an assessment and get proper treatment. Having a templated message to reschedule appointments will save you time reaching out to patients that need to come back at a later time.

Subject line: Reschedule your appointment with Dr. [Physician’s Name]

Message:
Hi [Patient’s Name],

You missed or canceled your appointment on [date] at [time]. We want to make sure you still get taken care of!

Please reschedule your appointment online: [Link to online scheduler]

Alternatively, you can contact a representative from our office directly via [Phone Number].

Thank you for choosing [Practice Name]

5 steps to automate patient appointment reminders with NexHealth

Most appointment reminder apps and software come with an automatic reminder option that lets you ‘set it and forget it’, so that your staff can focus on other important tasks such as bringing in more patients and working towards making the patient experience better. Along with just being able to book appointments and send reminders, it can also handle rescheduling and cancellations.

Let’s look at how you can set up automatic texts and email reminders for your patients using Nexhealth’s patient experience solution:

Select an action screen

Edit the time screen

Step 1: Choose an ‘action’ depending on the time elapsed since the patient booked their appointment.

Choose between SMS or Email optionStep 2: Choose the type of reminder you want to send your patients.

Type message with phone screen

Step 3: When sending that SMS reminder, edit the message within the preview. Once you are happy with the message, save it under the ‘time action’ created under Step 1.

Important: By using automated fields such as clinic location and patient name, the text automatically populates based on the patient information

Type email

Step 4: In case of sending an email reminder, edit the subject line and email body copy with pre-populated fields like appointment date, time, and location. 

Important: Keep it short and make sure that the important information about the appointment is clearly highlighted. Add contact information and your logo at the end of the message.

Flow of reminders set

Step 5: Repeat this process for additional reminders, such as 24 hours or 2-hour reminders.

To set up your automated reminder system with NexHealth’s patient experience solution, book your free demo.

 

While you can’t control when patients no-show or cancel, automating patient reminders are within your control and can make the lives of your patients – and you as a medical practitioner – much more manageable.

By automating patient reminders and giving patients the option to join virtual waitlists to fill cancelled and missed time-slots, you empower them to manage their care, taking work off your plate and improving your practice management. Ultimately, using the tips above will help you manage your patient relationships and improve retention.

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