The Value of Texting / SMS
The Value of Texting and SMS
Question: Does Veribook offer text / SMS appointment reminders?
Answer: Clinics usually want this feature as they believe this feature will help minimize their no-show rates.
However, given everything else that Veribook does to minimize no show rates, our experience is that SMS reminders do not deliver a measurable benefit, and instead, have led to unexpected problems.
We therefore focus on email reminders as we think this is the most effective way to help clinics achieve the following goals of:
minimizing no-shows and late cancellations
ensuring patients arrive on time and prepared
ensuring patients are aware of clinic policies
No Show Rates
One of the key advantages of online scheduling is that patient no show rates are reduced. This is achieved through a variety of means:
our approach to online scheduling enables patients to select the most convenient times for themselves
we send automated email confirmations and reminders
our email confirmations include the ability to add the appointment into calendars (e.g. Google Calendar, iCal)
patients can easily cancel or reschedule, 24/7, including when the clinic is closed
Our experience is that these aspects together can reduce no-show rates to less than 2% of all appointments. In our testing, including in conjunction with an award winning clinic recognized for it’s iterative and experiment approach to online scheduling), we did not identify any further reduction in no show rates by sending text messages.
One of the key advantages of online scheduling is that patients can be instructed to arrive for their appointment fully prepared. For example, new patients can be supplied patient histories to complete in advance; patients scheduling an IUD insertion can be reminded to obtain the IUD from a pharmacy and to bring it to the appointment unopened.
Robust patient preparation instructions are quite compatible with email reminders; unfortunately, our experience is that if patients also receive text reminders (which in practice must be much shorter), they are much more likely to not open the emails, and thus arrive unprepared for their appointment.
Managing patient expectations is key to preventing patient conflict. In particular, letting patients know of clinic policies such as no show and late cancellation fees and deadlines is important, and doing so in a text message is quite challenging.
Our experience is that sending an email confirmation and reminder, both containing all of the relevant information including appointment date and time, location, preparation instructions, as well as clinic policies, is highly effective and so this is the approach that we take to helping deliver on medical clinic goals.