The Types of Reminders That Just Don’t Work Anymore

The Types of Reminders That Just Don’t Work Anymore

It is time to expect more from mobile reminder services and leverage them to drive patient engagement.

One-way communication reminders, where the patient isn’t able to respond to reply and confirm their coming to the appointment, just don’t work—and neither do unintelligent two-way systems.

You know the ones: the automated reminder that prompts a patient response but doesn’t deliver an answer in return.

Both of these types of reminders snuff your patient’s desire to communicate, and that’s exactly what we don’t want. As providers, we should be encouraging patient communication. That’s the only way we can optimize our crammed schedules, stay on top of developing symptoms, and deliver exceptional healthcare. Here are a few ways you can change the way you use mobile reminders to boost patient engagement and keep your patients happy.

Kick One-Way Communication to the Curb

Several providers to this day only offer one-way mobile reminders. The message goes out to the patient and the patient is not asked to respond.

For example:

  • You have an appointment with Dr. John Doe on Wednesday, 9/5/2017 @ 4 PM.

Messages like this are terrible for patient engagement. Asking the patient to respond to a text message means more than you think–it’s asking them to play an active role in their care through that response.

Adding a two-way response feature doesn’t mean more work for you. Luma Health’s reminder system helps you triage patient’s incoming text messages with you having to lift a finger. For example, here are some actual patient responses to appointment reminders via Luma Health. 

  • hello, i have an appointment for 4:30 today with dr. xxxx. unfortunately i am going to have to reschedule. i woke up with a stomachache and was only able to sleep two hours. i am texting instead of calling because i have poor cell reception indoors.
  • hi i am not feeling well today can i do my therapy tomorrow?
  • good morning. this is john and i have a 2:30 with jim. i have to reschedule this appt. i have been doing the exercises that ashley has given me and have been over working my back muscles. i’m in too much pain to come in today. pain level is up to an 8+ and is causing nausea and making me throw up. pls apologize to john and hope this doesn’t screw up his day. thank u.

Instead of just canceling the appointment and leaving it up to the patient to reschedule (and missing some very valuable patient information in these texts!), we can help them find that next appointment on the spot and alert key staff to messages with critical health information. As health care providers, we should remove as many barriers to access to care as we can.

Rather being told to come to the appointment without a say, the patient can be asked to confirm the appointment. This goes a long way to empower the patient with the choices that drive patient engagement.

With automated, two-way reminders, we engage the patient in a conversation and help them find a new appointment—all over text messaging.

Scrap Unintelligent Two-Way Reminders, Too

Do you know what’s worse than dead-end, one-way reminders?

One-way reminders posing as two-way reminders. I call these unintelligent two-way reminders. Just take a look at this mobile reminder I received from my dentist:

They told me to “Text C to confirm,” but I wanted to test the service and texted a non-standard response. No one answered. Then, I tried a normal response. Still no answer.

This isn’t rare, but it’s pretty disappointing. See, some patients won’t understand the messages they receive are automated and sent by a computer. In turn, the computer won’t register the patient’s responses unless it’s programmed to. The computer will only understand as much as you teach it to understand. If the computer fails to understand the patient’s response, it just makes the provider look inattentive—and that’s exactly what we’ll be if we continue using this kind of system.

Just imagine the patient’s experience: the patient takes the time to write a response to the unintelligent two-way reminder your clinic sent. The patient doesn’t receive a response but assumes someone read it. Maybe the patient even wanted an answer on an ongoing therapy they’re on. Then, the patient shows up for his next appointment where he’s questioned about his missed appointment. Oh, and he’s slammed with a late-appointment fee, too.

I wouldn’t be happy, either.

Thankfully, Luma Health has intelligence built into its service to help triage and engage your patients. Let’s say your patient wants to know about a bill or has a question on insurance coverage. We can tag these questions and send them to your staff. Pretty smart, right?

A Smarter Way to Remind Your Patients

Appointment reminders have been around for a few decades. They started with automated phone calls and worked their way into email and text messaging. Other than the form of communication, not much has changed about them. Luma Health offers intelligent, automated two-way text reminders that make it easy for your patients to get in touch with you. Click here to learn more about our Intelligent Scheduling solution and request a demo.

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