Optimal Time to Remind Patients of Appointments

Optimal Time to Remind Patients of Appointments

Data from 20 million appointments by SolutionReach was analyzed to gain insight into the optimum time for practice managers and their staffs to successfully remind patients about their upcoming appointments.  The data showed that a reminder sent immediately after making the appointment has little effect on the patient arriving for the appointment.

Remind at 3 Weeks

Sending the first reminder three weeks before the appointment resulted in the highest confirmation rate in the study, resulting in 79 percent of patients confirming that they will be keeping their appointment. The same reminder given one week before the appointment only resulted in a 73.3 percent confirmation rate.  Reminding patients two weeks prior to the appointment came in second, with 77.7 percent of patients confirming the appointments, and sending a reminder four weeks before the appointment came in third, with 75.6 percent of patients confirming their appointments.

Remind at 3-5 Days

The second reminder is optimized when it is sent anywhere from three to five days before the appointment. I have found that the patient needs at least three days to make arrangements to get time off from work for the appointment.  The data bears this out.

Remind 3 Hours Before

The research found that a third reminder is optimally sent 3 hours before the appointment. This reminder does not have any significant impact on patient confirmation rates, but it has impact as a day of reminder to help the patient not forget the appointment at the last minute, with the day’s busy tasks.  Three hours allows the patient time to rearrange their schedule to make it to the scheduled appointment and not cancel.
With today’s automation, text, and email reminders, along with automated phone calls, such that we no longer have to sit on the phone doing reminders, it is possible to implement this type of three-step reminder system to decrease patient no shows.

Certified Professional Medical Auditor

Barbara Cobuzzi

About Has 98 Posts

Barbara J. Cobuzzi, MBA, CPC, CENTC, COC, CPC-P, CPC-I, CPCO, AAPC Fellow, is an independent consultant, CRN Healthcare Solution, Tinton Falls, N.J. She is consulting editor for Otolaryngology Coding Alert and has spoken, taught, and consulted widely on coding, reimbursement, compliance, and healthcare-related topics nationally. Barbara also provides litigation support as an expert witness for providers and payers. Cobuzzi is a member of the Monmouth, N.J., AAPC local chapter.

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