What Are 3 Ways Hospitals and Doctors’ Offices Can Improve Appointment Attendance?
While technology has provided solutions for several problems plaguing the healthcare industry, there continues to be a seemingly incurable problem impacting healthcare – how to reduce no-show rates. A solution may finally be here. To give an idea of how pervasive this problem is, the estimated cost of missed appointments each year was $150 billion in 2017. It is likely even more now.
How Technology Can Help Reduce No-Shows
People live busy lives and sometimes are just plain forgetful. Solutions to combat no-shows through pushing out automated appointment reminders to patients aren’t new, however reminders only do so much. What happens when the patient can’t make the appointment anyway? Even with missed appointment fees to incentivize cancellations, many people still forget or are unable to call to cancel the appointment, resulting in a no-show. Fortunately, there are solutions that can help.
1. Interactive Voice Response
Leveraging a solution to push appointment reminders to patients via phone, email, or text is fairly common today. However not all of these solutions include interactive functionality. They lack the option for a patient to press a number to confirm the appointment, cancel the appointment, or request it to be rescheduled.
By leveraging an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solution capable of issuing notifications, healthcare organizations not only gain the ability to issue appointment reminders but also enable customers to immediately respond with confirmation or cancel the appointment with a push of a button. Some even offer the capability to discover and suggest new appointment times so they can reschedule the appointment right then and there.
The easier your organization makes it for patients to cancel or reschedule when they can’t make it, the more likely they are to do so, giving you an opportunity to fill the gap.
2. AI Solutions
With recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), several startups are developing novel new solutions to solve age old business problems. This includes reducing appointment no-shows.
What makes them unique is what comes after the notification is issued: if a patient responds that they are unable to make the appointment or misses it in spite of the reminder, the AI component of the system is able to follow up with the patient for more information. This enables the healthcare organization to capture reasoning for missed appointments and enables healthcare professionals to better account for outside influences. This, in turn, can give the institution better insight into problems facing their patients, enabling a more holistic and complete healthcare experience, possibly even extending into social services and social work.
In fact, the versatility of AI, especially when paired with machine learning, opens up the door for multiple options and ways the system can automatically address problems making appointments without human intervention. For example, an AI solution with machine learning could learn to identify trends and preferences in patient scheduling, helping to suggest ideal times to an institution’s appointment scheduling department. Another example could be assisting a patient to find transportation if they don’t have a ride to the appointment.
3. Communication via New Platforms
Communications technology has continued to evolve at an increasing rate over the last several decades introducing more and more new communication mediums. First, there was the rise of the internet and email, after which mobile phones and SMS (text) messaging became mainstream, and most recently, social media platforms.
In fact, each of the three most popular messaging apps – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat (listed in order of user numbers) have over 1 billion users worldwide. These apps offer an arguably more flexible user experience than traditional phone companies given they all offer free international internet calls, something very uncommon amongst telecom carriers. This kind of flexibility suggests that the usage rates of these apps will continue to grow for many years to come, making them an important medium to consider.
So, What Does This Mean for Appointment No-Shows?
With so many different methods to communicate, flexibility is becoming increasingly important. Choosing the best platform for issue appointment reminders for a given patient may not only help increase appointment attendance rates, but improve patient satisfaction and engagement. Leveraging a highly interoperable Unified Communications and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solution can provide the necessary flexibility to meet patients halfway, wherever the conversation takes place.
Modernize Patient Outreach with CX-E
CX-E is a highly interoperable and flexible unified communications solution complete with IVR and API integration capabilities. By adding CX-E Notification, healthcare organizations gain access to a powerful solution capable of issuing outbound appointment reminders and other notifications.
This solution can do more than enable healthcare organizations to communicate important messages and appointment reminders to patients more effectively – it can help support cutting edge technologies to further reduce appointment no-shows. Given its robust API integration capabilities, it would even be possible to connect to an AI solution like those described above. This would enable the AI to leverage CX-E’s IVR and Notification service to communicate with patients.
If you’d like to learn more about CX-E, how it can revolutionize healthcare please reach out to one of our industry experts.