Why Medical Offices Should Use SMS
Medical offices around the world know how important it is to make scheduling appointments a priority. Even more so, they know how frustrating it is to experience missed, or no-show, appointments. When utilizing SMS messaging, it’s easy to decrease the occurrence of missed appointments and to schedule more appointments.
Avoid Missed Appointments
Missed appointments cost the medical field billions of dollars every year, and studies suggest that most practices see anywhere from 21-32% no-shows after a scheduled appointment. Depending on medical specialty and location, every missed appointment can cost doctors between $100 and $900. If medical offices average 1-2 missed appointments each day, that means they would lose between $20,000 and $180,000 annually. If every single doctor dealt with this issue, pediatric medicine alone would lose $1.3 billion annually. Missed appointments have a large impact on patient health, medical office income, and the county’s economy.
One way to avoid missed appointments is to send patient reminders. Phone calls are the traditional form of reminding patients, but they’re time-consuming and can be costly to maintain. SMS messaging, on the other hand, is a quick, efficient tool that can reach hundreds of clients. 98% of messages are opened and read, and 90% are read within 3 minutes or less. Plus, it costs just pennies per message!
Schedule More Appointments
Some mobile marketing companies offer a solution known as two-way texting. This works just like texting a friend, so once someone has subscribed to the list, they can start a dialogue. Just set up a keyword, such as, “schedule’ or “appointment” and patients can text in when they want to schedule their next appointment. Then just text back their appointment date and time. This is much easier for both parties, as it is not time-consuming, and the patient has the text to refer back to.
Why use SMS messaging?
In a study conducted recently, 41% of patients said they would prefer a text reminder, as opposed to 1.3% who prefered a phone call. Take that into consideration with the results from Kaiser Permanente when they utilized SMS messaging: in one month they saw 1,837 fewer no-shows.
An average doctors office will pay staff $12,086.42 over six months for manual phone reminders.
Remarkably, the same office will pay staff only $312.00 over six months to send SMS reminders. Of phone call reminders placed, around 16% of them are never received. With SMS messaging, 98% are opened and read.
Spotlight: Schedule Feature
Many SMS marketing companies offer a schedule feature, which allows the user to write messages in advance and choose the date and time to send them. It doesn’t require the user to sit around texting all day long. This feature is especially useful for doctors offices.
Saving doctors’ offices over $11,700 is easy to do if those offices utilize SMS messaging. Sending SMS reminders does not require hiring new staff. It is easy to use sign up for an SMS marketing company’s software and schedule messages, organize subscribers, and respond to inquiries.
After offices have gathered a subscriber list (through opt-in or manual entry) it only takes one person a few minutes a day to schedule reminders. Simply find all of the new appointments made that day, locate recipients, and craft a message. Then choose the day and time to send the reminder. After that, don’t think about it again!
Before offices can send messages they must first build a subscriber list. The easiest way to do this and remain in compliance with TCPA rules and regulations, is with an opt-in keyword.
The opt-in process is simple. All that is needed is a short code, which we provide, and a keyword, which you choose. After that, you simply offer your patients a word to text in to the short code so they can opt-in to receive messages. Try texting “doctor” to 91011 to see an example of an opt-in process.
After your patients opt-in, you can send them relevant messages. These can include appointment reminders, payment reminders, receipts, general health tips, and even reminders to schedule routine health check-ups.
Promoting New Opt-In Keywords
Because most people prefer text reminders, it will be simple to convert patients to the new system. Gather attractive signs or window clings advertising your opt-in information. Train staff to notify patients of this new feature, especially when they make an appointment. Staff can say something similar to,
“Okay, Mr. Smith, I have you down for next Tuesday at 11 am. If you text ‘doctor’ to 91011 I can send you a text reminder.”
Offices can even offer an incentive, because incentives always bring in subscribers. Offer a free whitening for one subscriber, or a gift card, or $50 off of their bill.
As they say, getting there is half the battle. Now that you have the information and reasoning, it’s time to develop a successful SMS reminder campaign. Isn’t it time to bring medical offices into the 21st century?