Good patient communication can help eliminate no-shows

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Good patient communication can help eliminate no-shows

If you want to stay connected to your patients via on-hold advertising and appointment reminders, the folks at InTouch Practice Communications can show you how. The InTouch team was photographed during the recent ADA meeting in Honolulu, HI, USA. Pictured from left are Cassie Butler, Jon Carpenter, Houston Hastings, Katie Lubovich, Bill Schroeder, Aisha Wright and Tani Werner. (DTA/Photo Fred Michmershuizen)
Kim Larson, Larson Media Group

Kim Larson, Larson Media Group

Thu. 8 October 2009


Let’s face it — people are busy. The average person’s schedule is so flooded with the ‘do this and that’ of life that many have a difficult time juggling a week’s worth of normal activities, not to mention those things that are planned months in advance. As a result, missed appointments have become commonplace, and a practice’s efficiency and revenue often suffer.

InTouch Practice Communications offers a solution that has proven to reduce missed appointments and increase practice revenue. PhoneTree Patient Messaging is a solution so effective that ADA Business Resources recently announced InTouch Practice Communications as the exclusively endorsed patient communications provider for ADA members.

To hear exactly how PhoneTree Patient Messaging is helping practices across the country, we spent time with Linda Hendrix, office manager of Orthodontic Specialists of Wooster, in Wooster, OH, USA.

The staff of Orthodontic Specialists of Wooster was manually calling patients (or, parents of patients) 24 hours prior to appointments for confirmation. Until the office purchased a PhoneTree Patient Messaging system, staff members were having a large number of no-shows due to appointments being forgotten. We asked Hendrix to share with us how the PhoneTree system has helped reduce no-shows and make the staff more efficient.

Thank you for speaking with us today. Please tell us about your practice.
We are a busy practice; the majority of our patients are children and young adults. Considering how busy family schedules can be, we needed an automated appointment reminder system —something to free our staff from calling all our patients to confirm they were coming to their appointments.

And how long have you been using PhoneTree for appointment reminders?
For over five years. It’s been an extremely reliable tool for our office and allows us to focus on keeping the office running smoothly, rather than spending the day making calls. We now spend less than five minutes a day reminding all of our patients.

Why did you choose PhoneTree?
Our doctors chose it because they liked the idea of making the office staff more efficient. We have two doctors, five assistants and two schedulers — with a full schedule every day, efficiency is integral to our office.

Have you seen a difference in no-shows?
Yes. We have many patients with busy schedules, making appointments six to 12 months in advance, and they understandably sometimes forget. With PhoneTree, we just “click” and go on with our day. It makes the calls whenever we prefer, and we know our patients will get the reminders.

Do you find the reporting functions helpful?
Oh, yes. We use the reports to know which patients got messages, and from that information we ask for records updates. We’re also able to let our patients know when they were called — as well as the result, which reduces the “I never got a reminder” comments. We’ve found that calling between 5 and 7 p.m. gets the best results. And the status report is waiting for me when I get to the office in the morning.

How does your staff feel about PhoneTree?
We love it. We used to spend all afternoon on reminder calls. In many cases, we just didn’t have the time to call everyone and do our essential office tasks. With PhoneTree, we never have that problem.

And how do your patients feel about automated appointment reminders?
They really appreciate that we remind them of their appointments. It’s viewed as part of our customer service plan. Many patients comment that they rely on it.

Would you recommend PhoneTree to other practices?
We actually do recommend it to other practices — we brag about our PhoneTree and how quickly it reminds patients about their appointments.

Do you use PhoneTree for any other applications?
We’ve actually just been discussing with our doctors about expanding our PhoneTree applications. We’re exploring recalls and special announcements. We’d like to remind patients when they haven’t been in for some time, and the recalls function could help us. The special announcements would be for opportunities when we can reach out to patients to let them know we’re thinking about them, such as birthdays. As well, there are times during the year we need to notify patients of opening delays due to inclement weather.

Is there anything else you would like to say about PhoneTree?
We recommend it for any health-care provider looking to make his or her appointment reminders a simple process. It’s just so easy.

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