Text message appointment reminders reduce no-shows by 38%, study finds

No-shows can be a costly experience for any health care practice. With demands placed on physicians to see more patients than ever before, patients who fail to show up to their appointments can create appointment backlogs and contribute to practice inefficiency. One way to reduce no-shows is through appointment reminders.

Appointment reminders have become commonplace among healthcare practices. There are many anecdotal accounts stating that appointment reminders have helped improve patient attendance. But one group of researchers set out to gather empirical evidence to determine just how effective text message appointment reminders are at reducing no-shows.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Department of Primary Care and Social Medicine at Imperial College London, set out to determine if text message reminders are an effective way to reduce appointment no-shows.

The study states that non-attendance “causes suboptimal use of clinical and administrative staff and financial losses, as well as longer waiting times.” That’s especially true of practices spread across multiple locations with greater demands on patient communications.

So when it comes to appointment reminders, the results of this study point to a promising solution for reducing no-shows and increasing the efficiency of your practice.

Do text message appointment reminders work?

The study was conducted by sending a text message appointment reminder to one group of patients, and not sending an appointment reminder to a control group. Then, researchers measured the rate of attendance among both groups to see if appointment reminders were effective at reducing no-shows.

The study found that no-show rates were 38% lower among patients who received a text message appointment reminder.

That means that text message appointment reminders have been proven to reduce no-show rates by almost 40%. The conclusion of the study also went on to say that text message reminders “may also be more cost-effective than traditional appointment reminders and require less labour.”

So for practices looking to increase their efficiency, appointment reminders can help reduce excess work on your staff and actually help you save money in the long run by reducing no-shows and boosting your patient engagement.

Making the switch to automated appointment reminders

But practices can take it one step further.

Rather than having your staff send out appointment reminders manually, your practice can implement a solution that sends out automated appointment reminders to patients to help boost your efficiency even more. With an automated text message appointment reminder system, you can eliminate the hassle that comes from phone tag and constant patient follow-up.

Solutions like Klara, which integrate with your EHR, are even more effective at sending out appointment reminders and unifying your communications with patients into one system. Rather than having to manage multiple systems for different kinds of communications, Klara allows you to see your appointment reminders alongside any other messages you send to your patients in one single thread. And Klara even allows patients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule their appointment with a simple text, to ensure that no-shows are a thing of the past. Klara uses smart automation to send customizable replies to confirmations, so you can send an intake form or ask patients to upload their insurance cards straight from their phones.

Find out more about how Klara can help streamline your patient communications — have a conversation with one of our practice specialists today.