We can guarantee that less than 100% of appointment reminders will be delivered. There are many factors that interfere with delivery that are simply outside of our control. Phone (voice) reminders have the best delivery rates, followed by emails, and then text messages. Text message reminders, for example, can often be classified as "Spam" by cell phone carriers, and blocked: the cell carrier conveys no indication back to us that this has happened. Emails can also be blocked as Spam; phone reminders can encounter a busy signal on each attempt.
To maximize the CHANCES of reminder delivery, check to ensure that the patient information is entered correctly:
- In Patient Information, make sure that the item "What kind of appointment reminders?" has been answered appropriately.
- If the kind of reminder requested is a phone call, make sure there is a HOME phone number entered, in the format "XXX-XXX-XXXX"
- If the kind of reminder requested is a text message, make sure there is a CELL phone number entered in the same format.
- If the kind of reminder is an email, make sure that a valid email address has been entered.
- The list of appointment reminders is composed very early in the morning the day before the appointment (unless you have requested that they go out a day earlier). If you enter an appointment into the schedule after the list is composed, no reminder will be sent, because the appointment didn't exist at the time the list was composed.
- You can check to see if an attempt was made to send a reminder message. Display the patient information and click the "Appt Audit" button. All the information about recent or future appointments for that patient will be displayed--who set them, when, and the status of any attempts at reminders.
- Remember that the appointment reminder status is only a listing of the ATTEMPTS to send a reminder. If the phone isn't answered, or is busy repeatedly, no reminder can be delivered. If the email goes to the Spam folder, or the text message is deleted unread, the system cannot track these problems. Likewise, if a patient feigns not receiving a reminder in hopes of avoiding a no-show fee, we certainly cannot track this. It is best to have a written policy that states that reminders are sent as a COURTESY, but that patients will be held responsible for missed appointments whether or not a reminder is sent. This helps to end disputes about whether or not a reminder was sent or received.