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The Friction within Scheduling

How many of you make reminder calls to your patients the day before an appointment? No doubt you do this because you want to ensure they remember to come in; cancellations are expensive both as lost revenue and increased staff time used to backfill the appointment. But have you considered that calls to the patient actually present an opportunity to lose business? That’s one of the conclusions found by this 2020 study at Evaluating the Impact of Patient No-Shows on Service Quality

The study found that day-before reminder calls actually increased cancellations, though providers at least had enough lead-time to backfill the appointment. Unfortunately, the study also found that reminder calls had little to no impact on no-show rates. Given the proliferation of digital appointment books, I suspect most people depend on their mobile device reminders and even prefer them to receiving a phone call. But most technologies in medicine today still require a manual process to get a reminder (call or text) into the digital appointment book.

What else did the study find? While there is an advantage to being slightly overbooked, patients expect doctors to run on time, and overbooking doesn’t necessarily save money, as more staff or longer hours are required.

Apparently, the introduction of self-scheduling showed more promise than some of the other approaches, but smaller organizations were often reluctant to implement such solutions due to cost and implementation time.

The last notable item from the study was that the longer the lead time between scheduling and the appointment, the more likely a patient was to cancel. Eight weeks was the tipping point. Related to this was the time slot of the appointment. People were more likely to attend appointments that worked with their availability.

So, what if we could use technology to eliminate the need for reminder calls; automatically populate a personal digital appointment book; backfill cancelled appointments without making calls; provide patients a simplified way to self-schedule that has a very low implementation cost; reduce the time between scheduling and appointment; and give patients appointments at times that were most convenient to them?

The answer is that SkedgeAlert can do all of those things today. We envision a world where the friction of scheduling is removed from the process, providers know their patients’ preferences, and scheduling is driven by the consumer without the scheduler losing control of the practice.

It all started when our founder just wanted to get his daughter into the doctor a few days sooner. But we’ve learned so much along the way and we’re happy to share that with the world. If any of these pain points resonated with you, reach out to me for a demonstration.

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