Wednesday, January 27, 2016

No-shows. This consistent healthcare industry issue is increasingly alleviated through SMS. No-shows result in numerous problems for any healthcare provider, as they make scheduling a replacement within the necessary timeframe next to impossible. This ultimately results in lost revenue.

Mobile technology is eradicating this issue by sending appointment reminders via SMS. More and more healthcare providers are jumping on board the SMS train for this reason, with great results.

Automated Appointment Messaging Service

One excellent example of SMS reducing the no-show number comes out of Broomfield, Colorado. Traci Humphreys, the practice manager at Broomfield Family Practice, was increasingly frustrated at the number of missed appointments and the subsequent money lost. She decided to implement Apptoto, a cloud-based, automated appointment messaging service that provides helpful appointment reminders. Various messaging strategies were used to reach patients at the best times of day, i.e. when they were most likely to glance at their mobile devices.

Humphreys said the service made a wonderful impact on the practice, and that it decreased the number of no-shows by 40 percent. It also gave her front office time to focus on other things rather than constantly making reminder calls. And because automated messages are sent two days’ prior to appointments, the office has time to fill any empty slots due to cancellations.

Billions in Missed Appointments

Frank Cort, the founder of Apptoto, isn’t remotely shocked at the positive impact his service is making on the healthcare industry. He notes that by taking a statistical approach to the issue, he found missed appointments cost the American economy some $66 billion per year. Cort also points out that people are much more likely to read SMS messages in a timely fashion than they do emails.

The Right Wording

The wording of reminder messages is helpful as well, as “friendly” reminders go the furthest. Cort stresses that many patients forget their healthcare appointments for reasons as simplistic as meeting a friend for coffee, and that the wording of reminder messages must “increase the importance” of the appointment in their minds.

2015 HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey

The results of the 2015 HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey further emphasize the role SMS is playing in the healthcare industry. The survey found that nearly 90 percent of the 200 healthcare provider employees studied relied on their mobile devices to engage with patients. This report also found respondents believe mHealth technologies are increasingly driving cost savings and otherwise improving healthcare quality.

A Variety of Tools

The survey noted that respondents used a number of mobile tools to engage patients, including app-enabled patient portals (73 percent), telehealth services (62 percent), and text communications (57 percent). Some 36 percent of respondents believe app-enabled patient portals are the most helpful.

Here to Stay

Reducing the amount of money lost due to no-shows, increasing workplace production, engaging patients, and keeping them committed to taking charge of their health... Clearly mobile technology is benefitting the healthcare industry in innovative and successful ways. As mobile tech evolves, so too will its use in the healthcare industry, something many providers are undoubtedly applauding.