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How to automate appointment reminders and routine practice tasks

Here’s how healthcare providers can cut administrative work at their practices — and attract new patients in the process.

If you manage a small or medium-size healthcare practice, you know the strain that administrative work places on your time. A 2017 Annals of Family Medicine study shows that clinicians spend more than two-and-a-half hours each day taking care of clerical and administrative tasks — instead of taking care of patients.

As the study states, “…physicians have not allocated time … much of the non face-to-face work occurs on top of already full patient care sessions.”

Although the burden on healthcare providers and staff is clear, a more efficient practice is within reach. And getting there is easier than you think. The first step is to identify tasks at your practice that can be automated whenever possible; the second is implementing the right services to effectively run that automation.

Let’s look at four routine administrative tasks you can automate at your practice, empowering your staff to accomplish more in less time.

Appointment reminders

How much time does your staff spend each day calling patients with appointment reminders? This is one of the most time-consuming and inefficient front office tasks — with many calls ending up in voicemail.

Automating appointment reminders benefits your practice in two ways: It’s one of the quickest ways to efficiently perform a routine task, and it reduces your practice no-shows.

Instead of calling each patient on your daily reminders list, one at a time, automated appointment reminders are sent to all via text message or email — both more convenient and immediate than voicemail. After receiving your reminder, patients can confirm their appointment, which your staff can see in a simple, real-time display.

Look: The real cost of no-shows for your healthcare practice and how to avoid them

Scheduling integration

Another way to rescue staff from hours of phone work is to add online scheduling to your practice operation. Every appointment that a patient requests or books online means one to two fewer phone calls interrupting your staff’s day.

Online scheduling is simple: After finding your practice website, a prospective patient can see your availability and book a date and time that works for them. You specify your availability, and your staff confirms who gets scheduled when, based on those requests. More slots filled, far less time on the phone.

Depending on which practice management system or EMR/EHR you’re using, the process can be fully integrated, a seamless two-way communication between online scheduling and your existing system. With two-way scheduling integration, each patient’s booked appointment shows up automatically in your provider schedules when confirmed, and can then move through your usual workflow, from charting to billing.

Patient satisfaction surveys

If you’re not already sending out surveys to gauge patient satisfaction, you should be. Asking patients for feedback after each visit lets them know you’re listening, and lets you know when they’ve had a wonderful experience. It also alerts your practice to issues that need addressing.

In this era of unprecedented competition, consider patient satisfaction surveys an essential component of your business. And reconsider how you’re sending surveys if the process involves manually entering contact information or shooting off emails to patients one at a time.

Instead, by automating your patient satisfaction survey tasks, you can get the information you need without diverting more of your staff’s time.

Reputation integration

Every time a satisfied patient shares a review of your practice online, your online reputation grows. As your online reputation grows, it improves your ability to attract more patients searching for care online. (This is exactly why PatientPop helps each of our practices grow their number of online patient reviews.)

Of course, automating patient satisfaction survey tasks is beneficial. But, as with online scheduling, if you can integrate those tasks into your existing practice management system, you’ll hit new heights in efficiency.

With the right automated service, here’s how reputation integration works: As part of your current workflow, after each visit, a survey text message or email is sent to the patient automatically. After answering a couple survey questions, patients can easily share their review across a variety of websites, including Google and your own branded website.

Also See: 3 ways healthcare practices can improve online reputation

The happy by-product of automation: staff satisfaction

One of the great benefits to automating office tasks like appointment reminders is that your front-office staff is empowered, almost immediately, to elevate their value at your practice. Rather than spending hours on routine tasks, they manage smooth, efficient processes that attract and satisfy new patients, contributing directly to the success of your practice.

With the only end-to-end practice growth platform in healthcare, PatientPop automates appointment reminders, patient satisfaction surveys, and other office tasks for healthcare practices, and integrates with many widely used practice management and EMR/EHR systems. Learn more at patientpop.com.

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