Appointment Reminders Can Improve Confirmation Rates by 156%

Dentistry Today


A weekly message sent less than one month but more than seven days ahead of the appointment increases confirmations by 126%, according to a study by Solutionreach designed to identify the best practices for patient reminder frequency and timing for healthcare organizations.

Solutionreach used advanced analytics to gain insights gathered from 20 million confirmation messages. The data proved the additive nature of reminder messages as well as which messages aren’t beneficial. The analysis also found that in comparison to upcoming appointments without an automated reminder message: 

  • A daily message sent less than seven days but more than 24 hours ahead increases confirmations by another 26%.
  • An hourly message sent the same day increased confirmations further by 4%.

The combined improvement in confirmations with three messages sent weekly, daily, and hourly was 156%. The study also found the use of an at-scheduling message, or one sent right after an appointment is scheduled, had no impact on confirmations when the appointment is more than a month away.

The timing of reminder messages also was evaluated, demonstrating an ideal cadence before the appointment. Reminders sent three weeks ahead resulted in 79% of patients confirming appointments, while reminders sent three to five days ahead also resulted in 79% of patients confirming appointments.

Dental practices have higher confirmation rates than medical practices. Solutionreach notes that specialties with lower overall confirmation rates may benefit even more from changing to an optimized cadence of reminders. Plus, patient demographics such as age didn’t change the recommended optimal frequency and timing of reminders.

The financial impact of using an optimized reminder strategy can be significant, Solutionreach said, as practices that don’t use reminders can have a no-show rate as high as 30%. Optimizing the reminder strategy can cut that rate in half or better, saving the average provider more than $170,000 a year, according to the Solutionreach No-Show Calculator.

“Patient no-shows continue to be a challenge for healthcare providers with no-show rates ranging from 10% to 30%,” said Jim Higgins, founder and CEO of Solutionreach. “We know that using automated reminders based on patient delivery preferences like text or email is effective at reducing no-shows, but now we know what frequency and timing has the best results as well.”

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