What are Automated Appointment Reminders, and do they actually work?

As a business owner, manager, consultant, or salesperson, one of the biggest bugbears in your working day is the missed appointment. According to figures released by the Queensland Government, missed outpatient appointments cost taxpayers an average of $3.8 million every month. Figures from business, if they were available, would probably be even worse: except each missed appointment costs your business directly. That’s potential profit that the taxpayer doesn’t subsidise.

As someone who has been affected by missed appointments, you’re unlikely to do the same to someone else. You may have your own system of bells and whistles to remind you of an impending appointment. Unfortunately, most people aren’t so organised. That’s why more businesses are using a SMS appointment reminder service.

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How one business reduced appointment reminder time and cost by 90%

The missed appointment problem was pretty acute at BrizBrain and Spine. In order to combat this problem, the neurosurgery and spinal surgery practice had a member of staff phone patients 24 to 48 hours before the appointment. On the phone call, the patient was reminded of date and time of appointment and the paperwork they needed to bring.

Now, BrizBrain and Spine is a pretty busy place. It has five clinicians on the go all the time. As you can imagine, the business of confirming appointments was a time consuming one. In fact, BrizBrain and Spine calculated it took 25 man hours every week. That’s without the cost of lost productivity in other areas in which the member of staff making the reminder calls should have been working.

Tens of thousands of dollars every year were literally being spent on reminding people of their appointments.

BrizBrain and Spine now use the directSMS Web 2 SMS service to send SMS appointment reminders. The system collates the reminders, and then sends them out in bulk once each day. As Amanda McPherson, Team Leader and Training Coordinator says:

“Instantly, we have been able to save 22 hours a week in resources, allowing greater productivity and task completion. Saving time in one area has an exponential flow on effect in terms of time that is available for higher level task.”

(view the case study here).

What is an SMS appointment reminder?

Quite simply, BrizBrain and Spine has linked its appointment calendar to its directSMS account. As appointments approach, the SMS reminder service kicks into action, generating an SMS reminder that is sent to the patient’s mobile phone as a text message. With 97% of all texts opened within three minutes, it’s easy to understand why missed appointment numbers fall through the floor when the SMS appointment reminder is used.

Other uses for SMS appointment reminders

All industries that use appointment systems will benefit from utilising SMS appointment reminders. We’ve seen how one healthcare provider has become more efficient, saved money, and released valuable man hours during the working week. Pharmacies, dentists, doctors, and hospitals all benefit similarly. Other businesses that benefit include:

  • Financial services companies

Clients receive an SMS appointment reminder, but consultants can also receive reminders about insurance renewals, account maturity dates, and statements sent. This increases efficiency of opportunity capture.

  • Hospitality and travel

Airlines and hotels use SMS reminder services to nudge their customers about flight times, booking details, and itinerary changes.

  • Retail

Stores use an SMS reminder to inform customers of pick-up times, delivery, or renewals of guarantees

  • Service companies

Electrical and gas companies can send SMS messages to remind customers of servicing and maintenance needs, and garages can do the same. In fact any service company will benefit from increased revenue when they use a SMS reminder service.

If your business suffers from broken appointments or your staff spend half their day chasing customers to remind them of upcoming meetings, think about how your business would benefit from using SMS appointment reminders. Can you afford not to explore how your bottom line would benefit from a SMS reminder service? Contact directSMS today, and a member of our team will be happy to answer your questions.