One of the best ways to keep patients engaged is through meaningful appointment reminders. We know that we need to convey meaningful information to our patients in these messages. But what does that look like in practice? In fact, what are the best practices for appointment reminders? And how do you keep your patients and staff safe in the age of Covid-19?
Luckily, we have a few ideas. Let’s dive into what best practices look like for appointment reminders.
Keep Your Patients Prepared
The staff of any dental practice knows how frustrating it is when patients come unprepared for an appointment. Maybe they didn’t fast correctly. Maybe they were supposed to take certain medications, and didn’t. Maybe they needed a letter of referral and didn’t bring it with them. Often, the appointment itself had to be cancelled, which can result in loss of income for your practice. This is especially true in OMS practices – a patient forgetting to fast can often be a $1000 mistake! It also results in frustration for your patient. A frustrated patient is not a loyal patient!
The best way to prevent all this is to make sure your appointment reminders include all the information your patient needs. This can include:
- the date and time of their appointment
- fasting instructions
- requests for paperwork
- requests for x-rays
- and so much more
It’s essential to find solid appointment software that allows for in-depth customization. Your patients will only come as prepared as you set them up to be. The ability to customize in-depth is useful for both general dentistry and OMS practices. Including key instructions is part of best practice, no matter what kind of dental practice you have.
Find the right appointment reminder software for your practice today!
Customization for Each Patient
The ability to customize is paramount for best practices. This means communicating in the medium the patient wants, such as email or text. At Intiveo, we developed a wide variety of templates so that you can communicate those essentials. The template you choose will depend very much on why your patient is coming into your practice.
For example, for a general consultation, you have the option of choosing a very simple text message. It includes the date and time of the appointment, as well as any pre-appointment instructions. It also includes your patient’s name and a quick greeting. This essentials-only approach is simple and elegant. An email can be a little more detailed. It can include not just the date and time, but other important information, such as:
- a prominent button to confirm their appointment
- your practice’s logo and address
- a link to patient registration and health history forms
- connecting them to your Covid-19 screening form
- reminders to patients of any materials they need to bring to the appointment
- your cancellation policy
- and more
Compare this with an email that an OMS practice could send as a reminder for a wisdom tooth extraction. In addition to a prominent confirmation button, contact information, and your cancellation policy, you can also provide:
- pre-operation instructions, such as requiring a designated driver
- a video about the extraction, so the patient knows what to expect
- links to more detailed pre- and postoperative instructions
You can also go even further in-depth with a wisdom tooth extraction email. Providing a detailed checklist for your patients can be a great option. You can get specific enough to include:
- wearing a short-sleeved shirt so that it’s easier to administer sedation
- purchasing a flexible ice pack
- special instructions for patients under 18
These are just some of the examples of what is possible with Intiveo appointment reminder software! Check out our 60-day free trial today.
Covid-19: Best Practices
The idea of what ‘best practice’ means changed drastically with the arrival of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Suddenly, there were added layers of concern, caution, and safety that surrounded every medical procedure. Dental procedures were no exception. While with every passing day we are inching forward to a post-Covid reality, we are still in a place where we need to insure the wellness of staff and patients alike. Appointment reminders have an integral role to play in the health and safety of your staff and patients. Included in every appointment reminder must be a wellness screening survey. This wellness screening survey asks important questions about Covid-19 symptoms.
At Intiveo, these screening forms are very easy to set up from your dashboard. Utilizing the pre-appointment and post appointment options allows you to get a full picture of your patient’s health. The basic questions that are included are ones recommended by health authorities. The questionnaire is also specific to your location.
So what does it look when a patient has to respond ‘yes’ to one of these screening questions? First of all, you are notified immediately by email. You can then review the results and take the appropriate action. The wellness screening form also invites the patient to reschedule. If they test positive for Covid and have to isolate, they can choose a new appointment after their isolation is over.
Keeping your patient and staff safe is truly a best practice for appointment reminders!
Jay and Ami Get Reminded
In one of our earlier blog posts, we met two hypothetical patients, Jay and Ami, who received appointment reminders. Let’s revisit them to see appointment reminders in action!
Like many young dental patients, both Jay and Ami have busy lives. Jay is an entrepreneur who works from home. Ami is the primary caregiver to two young children. Both Jay and Ami both need dental work. What happens when they get their appointment reminders?
- Jay is in the middle of a busy workday when a generic text comes through about a dentist appointment. It just contains the date and time. Jay booked the appointment months ago and has no memory of what the appointment is for. However, Jay does add the appointment to their calendar and remembers to go the next day. Jay arrives at the dentist’s office the following day, only to discover that they should have been fasting for an extraction. The receptionist is obliged to cancel the appointment because Jay is unprepared. Frustrated, Jay declines to re-book at the office.
- Ami is watching the kids play at the park when an email comes through about an upcoming dental appointment. In it, Ami reads the detailed instructions for the procedure, including medications that Ami should take and how long the pre-appointment fasting period needs to be. The information is all there at Ami’s disposal, to be read when there’s time. After the kids are in bed, Ami reviews the instructions and prepares to follow them leading up to the appointment later in the week. Ami confirms the appointment. The day before the appointment, Ami receives a text with the basic reminders about the date and time of their appointment. The day of the appointment itself, Ami arrived punctually, having fasted and taken the correct medications. The procedure goes forward as planned.
Best Practices That Centre Your Patients
What do we notice about the difference between Jay and Ami’s appointment reminders? Jay’s is more generic. It lacks the essential information that Jay needs to come prepared for the appointment. Whereas, Ami’s dentist makes an effort to keep Ami engaged. The dental practice has the option of both a detailed message and a quick reminder to ensure that Ami comes to the appointment.
Ultimately, the best practices for appointment reminders involve conveying meaningful information in a way that is easy to understand. If you centre your patients and customize your appointment reminders to their needs, they will feel valued and come back to your practice.
Use best practices for your appointment reminders and watch your practice flourish!