The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has intensely affected healthcare systems across the globe. In response, hospitals and healthcare service providers are striving to provide safe and quality in-person and virtual care to patients via online appointment management hence the need for efficient appointment scheduling and reminder systems.
As they stretch their limits through the crisis, healthcare providers are successfully using appointment reminder services to schedule online appointments and send reminders to patients.
The dynamic health environment today requires health care providers to adopt versatile appointment scheduling and reminder apps. The apps will help effectively handle patients’ check-ins during this crisis and beyond.
In this article, we take you through an appointment reminder app for healthcare service providers ideal for appointment scheduling and sending reminders during this COVID-19.
You will get tips on how healthcare providers in both public and private practice are using appointment reminders to serve patients better during this COVID-19 epoch.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4 in 10 U.S. adults are avoiding medical care because of concerns related to COVID-19. Most of those delaying or avoid emergence or urgent care are people with two or more underlying medical conditions, and people with disabilities. This implies they need assurance for their health.
Patient communication in the U.S. has increased dramatically. The rate of appointment cancellation and shift to telehealth has also increased.
As hospitals and healthcare providers seek a steady ground to handle the concerns of their staff and patients, appointment reminder apps have gained preference. They have become a commendable solution to manage both in-person and virtual healthcare visits as well as appointment reminders to manage reschedules and cancellations.
Appointment Reminder is an easy-to-use online appointment scheduling system that allows hospitals and healthcare service providers to accept, confirm appointments, and send reminders to patients.
It is a HIPAA compliant system meaning it meets the requirements of protecting data transmitted between patients and service providers.
Easy accessibility via a web link, set-up, and intuitive interface makes it user friendly. You’ll learn its extensive capabilities in the next section. Meanwhile, you can do a quick test to prove it yourself.
Sign up for a 14 Day Free Trial that you can cancel anytime. Use appointment reminder inbuilt intuitive calendar or integrate with yours, set appointment availability, customize your message reminder scripts, preset the timing, share the booking link on your social media, website, directories, or search engine profiles and watch the appointments trickle in with reduced no shows.
Hospitals and healthcare service providers can utilize the following appointment reminder capabilities in scheduling appointments and sending reminders to their clients.
Appointment reminder supports a majority of calendars in the market. Integrate your preferred native calendar of choice to allow appointment reminder sync data. Once this is done, you can view the state of appointments and patient replies in realtime within your calendar. Appointment reminder supports Outlook Calendar, Office 365 Calendar, Google Calendar, Apple iCloud, or any other calendar from this full list of integrations. If your calendar is not on the list, contact Appointment Reminder and you’ll be assisted.
Feed the time hospital staff are available to attend to patients and let the appointment reminder app take care of the bookings. Once set, patients can book your services 24/7. Forget the confusion of double booking as with our system patients can only book available hours without duplicate booking.
Use appointment reminder app templates to create reminders or create yours from scratch. Send appointment confirmation messages via text (SMS), email, or voice message then follow-up with a reminder when the patient appointment is nearing.
Reminders help reduce no shows and manage reschedules and cancellations. Since the reminders are sent in time and if clients cancel or reschedule you can still admit new patients into the slot, and this way, you reduce no-shows.
Personalized reminders can better patient experience, remind them to attend their scheduled appointments, and do proper prior planning.
Tips to keep in mind when composing and scheduling or sending text message reminders:
· Be brief and on point: Consult with the policy of your organization to find out the requisites of a patient reminder message. Usually, it may contain the patient’s name and details about the appointment venue, assigned physician, date, and time.
· Send confirmation and reminder SMS: Upon booking, send the client a confirmation message asking them to confirm their appointment. Send them reminder messages when the appointment is nearing, 24 hours into the appointment then an hour to the set time.
· Schedule reminders for the right time of the day: Appointments sent after work hours tend to work best for most people and have a higher open rate. This is not cast on stone, what works best for you may differ from whatever works best for someone else. Try out a couple of time blocks until you find the time that works best for you.
· Verify reminder info before sending: It’s worth mentioning that a slight error can turn into an entire mess. Ensure you countercheck the information before sending it out.
Appointment reminder supports two-way communication with your patients. It updates the replies in real-time on your native calendar so you can respond promptly.
No more assumptions. If patients fail to confirm their appointments, the appointment reminder app will let you know because you won’t receive any reply from them. You can then reach out with a follow-up message or even give the patient a call to find out the underlying reason and act accordingly.
The extra mile to reach out to your patients proves your care and commitment to serve them. It will also enable you to identify and solve any issues they may be facing before they get out of hand.
We support video conferencing software like zoom. Send video links via SMS to the patient attending virtual consultations and let them sign in by clicking the SMS link.
If you have any special instructions to pass over to your patients, you can do so via SMS so you can make the appointment more fruitful. Allow them to do adequately prepare for the meeting in time and address their concerns in case they face any difficulty.
Here are some of the most COVID-19 communication that hospitals and healthcare service providers are making using appointment reminder service:
Even with adequate social distance in physical waiting rooms, some patients are fearful as they may either contract or transmit COVID-19. Hospitals and healthcare providers are using appointment reminders to create virtual waiting rooms to allow patients to send a message upon arrival then wait for the service provider to usher them in once ready to serve them.
Here is how a virtual waiting room with an appointment reminder app works:
· A patient receives a reminder an hour into the appointment reminding them to wear their mask and text once they arrive.
· The physician uses buffer time to get ready for the patient.
· Once the patient arrives, they send an arrival text then the provider sends a confirmation message.
· The patient sits in the car until the provider ushers them in, usually at the scheduled appointment time.
Your virtual waiting room doesn’t have to work like the model above. You can organize it to meet your needs. The basic thing is the two-way SMS communication with your patient and the ability to automate reminders of which the Appointment Reminder app takes care of.
Patients entrust their well-being into your hands as a hospital or healthcare provider. You, therefore, have to educate them concerning COVID-19 issues especially concerning the services you provide for them. Keep them informed with the appointment reminder app.
Ways healthcare providers are using appointment reminder app to educate their patients:
Debunking misleading information and settling uncertainty. With the mix of truth and lies about COVID-19, your patients look up-to you for truth. Send them messages to clear confusion and remember to cite and share links to credible sources. If you are clearing myths about the spread of COVID-19 you could try a message like:
“Supreme Clinic cares for you. Fact: Please note that coronavirus is spread in only four ways as this WHO publication reveals (insert WHO link).”
Educate patients on schedule. As you prepare patients looking forward to visiting your facility, you can leverage the power of appointment reminders to provide important insights about COVID-19. A quick tip is to add a link to a COVID-19 resource. Here is an example:
“As we look forward to seeing and serving, here’s a COVID-19 resource addressing common concerns (insert link).”
Share preventive care information to vulnerable patients. They are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus suffering complications and death. These patients could be diabetic or of 60-year-old or more. Use appointment reminder to communicate precautions they can take to be safe. Use healthcare records to identify such patients, group them in the appointment reminder, and send them and send them a reminder en masse. Here is a sample message:
“Your medical history condition makes vulnerable to COVID-19. Supreme Clinic recommends extra precautions to keep you safe. Click here to read about care tips (insert link).”
Communicate extended healthcare services. With the overwhelming patient inquiries more so with a COVID-19 exposure, you can use an appointment reminder messaging service to inform them about any extended healthcare service your facility is offering. Some of them could be in-person appointments, telehealth consultations, or a dedicated helpline for patients who feel exposed to COVID-19. Here is a sample message.
“Help us help you stay safe. If you feel any COVID-19 signs, contact our dedicated nursing line on (insert phone number) for assistance.”
Share COVID-19 resource center. It’s a good practice to share information about where patients can get updates on the coronavirus without relying exclusively on your messages. For example, you can share a link in your reminder messages directing them to your healthcare facility COVID-19 landing page. If you lack one, you can direct them to World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 update webpages. Consider the example below.
“Be on the know about COVID-19 developments. Visit this CDC link for regular updates.”
Telehealth appointments allow hospitals and healthcare providers to offer patient care in cases where patients don’t need to travel to a health facility. Virtual access to doctors reduces exposure to COVID-19 risks to both patients and their doctors.
As much as you use the appointment reminder app to accept in-person patient visits, you can also use it for telehealth appointments. The number of telehealth appointments has risen in this COVID-19 era. Appointment reminder supports video conferencing tools like Zoom that hospitals and healthcare providers can use to offer telehealth visits.
Remind patients about their upcoming telehealth visits. Ask them to have the recommended video tool of virtual meeting installed on their device and ensure everything is configured correctly. Here is a sample message for a telehealth visit.
Appointment onboarding: “Thank you for scheduling a telehealth visit with Supreme Clinic. Download the telehealth visit app from (insert link) and get ready 10 minutes in advance. Reply with ‘Help’ if you face any difficulty.”
Appointment reminder usually an hour before the actual visit: “Reminder. Your appointment is coming up at 11:00 am today. This will be a virtual visit via a video. Ensure you’ve downloaded the telehealth visit app and tested your device.”
The influx from usual patient demands, COVID-19 tests and patient care is overwhelming hospitals and health care providers. They may therefore result in the cancellation of non-essential medical in-person visits and elective medical procedures and priority given to emergency cases.
The appointment reminder app will efficiently help you manage reschedules and cancellations whether they are initiated by health care providers or patients. It helps you communicate to patients in time about the cancellation and rescheduling of their appointments.
With the contagiousness of the coronavirus, patients may cancel appointments on their own if they feel nervous visiting medical facilities. If they cancel or reschedule their appointments, you’ll equally be in the know and won’t have any time and resource commitment to an appointment that would never happen.
Quarantined patients and potential infection cases are confined in their homes. Appointment reminder allows you to schedule virtual appointments with them so you can help to assess their situations. Healthcare providers can easily monitor the symptoms of their patients and their progress when they are under medical care.
The two-way messaging capability of the appointment reminder app allows healthcare providers to exchange SMS messages with patients. This is beneficial because you can have time to find out more about the patient’s condition based on whatever they share via the SMS before you meet them virtually.
Although hospitals and healthcare providers can screen patients and determine the probability of COVID-19 infection, not all of them can do the tests. If your healthcare facility is undertaking tests, you can use the appointment reminder app to communicate the same to your patients. Let them know what they expect and the length of time it would take them to receive their results since some of them might require urgent COVID-19 certification like those involved in traveling or those working in the hospitality industry.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires hospitals and healthcare providers to meet the most recent COVID-19 standards. The frequent changes some of which come with new requirements take some healthcare facilities a significant amount of time to keep pace. Use an appointment reminder app to inform your patients about changes in protocols and confirm your compliance as you provide healthcare services to them.
Here is a quick digest of how hospitals and healthcare providers are packaging reminders using the appointment reminder app.
Pre-visit survey. Your state or federal government might require you to provide information about your patients before they visit your healthcare facility. This could comply with government healthcare needs. The appointment reminder app allows you to send patients a survey link via an SMS to help you adhere to the required compliance standards.
Notice SMS: Use appointment reminders to communicate any changes in business hours in your hospital. Although most hospitals run 24/7, some services are undertaken only during specified hours. Let your patients know the shift of hours for their appointments. If you are currently accepting cashless payments, you can also notify patients so they can load their payment cards before they finally step their feet at your healthcare facility.
Specific request SMS. Use specific request SMS to reschedule client appointments. Here you can send a personalized message targeting a specific patient or group of patients like those with chronic illnesses who are at higher risks.
Example of a specific request SMS message. “Greetings! If you encounter any difficulties connecting to your virtual telehealth consultation reach out to our patient care on (insert phone) for assistance.”
New regulations SMS. Such reminders apply to all patients. Healthcare is undergoing fast changes. Whatever was credible yesterday might be obsolete today – thanks to scientific developments, inventions, and innovations. Use appointment reminders to send patients links to these developments.
Example of a new regulations message: “As we look forward to meeting you, we ask you to familiarize yourself with an update on the hospital’s patient policy.” You’re not limited to the hospital policy, you can share any new updates on regulations.
Anything else about hospitals and healthcare service providers using appointment reminders during COVID-19?
Hospitals and healthcare providers using appointment reminder services in their healthcare systems have reported efficiency in their operations. Here are a couple of the reported benefits.
Minimized errors and improved communication: Appointment reminders automate both scheduling and sending reminders. It has become convenient for healthcare providers to minimize errors in miscommunication by providing an avenue for patients to seek clarification if uncertain. Communication is made easier with SMS reminders although emails and voice messages can still work.
Reduced paperwork: No strain perusing through files to check dates and confirm appointments. Unless for housekeeping, appointment reminders handle the entire process from accepting appointments, sending confirmation messages, sending reminders, to managing patient replies.
Articulate time and appointment management: No more worries about no-shows. Healthcare providers can inform their patients about canceled appointments and possible reschedules. In the process of appointment confirmation and addressing patient replies, healthcare providers can learn about patient appointment cancellations so they can assist them in rescheduling. If applicable, the healthcare providers can shift patient appointments from in-person to virtual instead of canceling the appointment altogether.
Efficient operations: The work done by healthcare providers is so precious to dwell on managing appointments. Appointment reminder takes care of the appointments as healthcare professionals take care of patient care whether they be in-person visits or telehealth virtual visits where patients meet their doctors virtually.
Use the appointment reminder app capabilities to integrate with your native calendar, accept online appointments 24/7, customize and send personalized reminders, manage patient replies and follow-ups, share web links and send instructions to patients via SMS.
Utilize appointment reminder to handle virtual waiting rooms, educate your patients, accept telehealth appointments, manage reschedules and cancellations, communicate with quarantine patients, communicate additional healthcare services to patients, and compliance messaging.
Send pre-visit survey links, notices, specific requests, and updates on new regulations via SMS using appointment reminder.