Reminder messages are pivotal in keeping dental patients returning for oral healthcare services. Because it's easy for messaging to be forgotten, finding the right cadence for these communications is essential.
Creating the perfect balance between engagement and spamming ensures messages sent by your office are taken seriously. You want your patients to achieve the best dental care outcomes. But if they unsubscribe from receiving important reminders because of excessive messaging notifications, treatment compliance becomes challenging.
If you haven't established a patient communication cadence yet or aren't even sure what that is, this helpful guide explains the basics. We've also included tips for optimizing your patient messaging strategy.
As a dental professional, you already know that appointment confirmations and reminder messages are your best defense against costly no-shows and last-minute cancellations. Depending on your specialization, any messages sent will need to be flexible to meet the needs of your office and patients.
If you aren't achieving a high appointment completion rate despite using automated reminders, it could be due to your patient communication cadence being off.
A standard cadence for appointment confirmations and reminders typically follows this frequency:
This timeline helps keep patients engaged by creating a sense of urgency about receiving their scheduled dental care. It also allows enough time for cancellation and rescheduling a visit so another patient can fill the vacant time slot.
Just like brushing your teeth, there are a lot of right and wrong ways to go about reminding patients about their appointments. Below are three essential best practices to ensure you formulate a cadence that benefits your patients and avoids them tuning you out:
This first piece of advice can go a long way in creating a cadence that your patients appreciate because they control what you can send them. Instead of using a general agreement to receive messages from your dental office that covers everything from appointment reminders to monthly newsletters, special discounts, and social media notifications, break down this permission into a few specific categories:
Allowing patients to create a personalized cadence can also help your team better understand what information is essential to your target audience.
Automated appointment reminders are probably a major time-saver in your office since many practice management software platforms offer customizable message templates. However, it's important to regularly verify your office's contact information is accurate. It's easy to forget to update a phone number, online scheduler link, or office address.
You should also ensure that your patients keep their contact information up-to-date with your dental practice. Phone numbers change all the time, as do emails. Have your team ask patients at check in if any of these details need updating in their file. You can even include a little note in your reminders now and then, too. This ensures your patients receive these reminders and confirmation messages, so it's less likely they'll miss their scheduled visits.
Another way to ensure your appointment reminder cadence is effective is to communicate with your patients on their terms. When onboarding, always offer multiple options for them to receive messages from your dental practice. For most practices, there are four primary avenues to contact patients:
And, don't limit them to only one channel. With an advanced VoIP phone system like Adit Voice, you can send a message to multiple channels at once. This means your staff doesn't have to spend time sending the same information three or four times separately.
Keep in mind that your reminder frequency will depend on the channel(s) patients choose for communication. For example, if they only want to be contacted through email, you probably shouldn't message them more than three times per scheduled appointment. If they pick multiple channels, limit reminders to four, but alternate between the different methods your patient chose.
Ideally, your reminder software should automatically send a text a few minutes after they schedule. Next a postcard ten days prior (if enough time to do so), and then an email a few days before. Finally, a text should be sent the day of their appointment. This frequency allows for timely cancellation and rescheduling so that another patient can book the vacant calendar spot.
The primary goal of any communication cadence you create is to increase appointment completion rates without bombarding your patients with endless messaging. While the frequency of your reminders will depend on your services and market audience, how far in advance your schedule runs is also a major factor.
Below are a few examples of ideal cadence strategies to accomplish these goals:
If your dental practice typically schedules appointments a week out, the following reminder sequence can maximize engagement:
Preventative care is essential to good oral health, but this means either scheduling wellness visits months in advance or sending scheduling requests to patients a month before. Either scenario runs the risk of your patient completely forgetting about this upcoming care, so how can you ensure they book and show up for their annual exam?
If you book the appointment months in advance:
Communication technology has advanced exponentially in just the last twenty years alone. The flow of information seems to never slow thanks to smartphones, laptops, and tablets. For consumers, this can lead to burnout from being constantly bombarded with emails, text messages, and the constant dinging of notifications.
The good news is that your dental practice can create a communication cadence using automated appointment reminders that patients will find valuable and supportive of their oral healthcare. This technology also helps your practice reclaim lost productivity and reduce overhead expenses by creating a streamlined approach to scheduling that boosts appointment completion rates.
Adit provides dental offices and professionals an advanced practice management platform that incorporates a robust offering of digital tools to support every aspect of their operations. Our cloud-based software suite centralizes your communications and automates messaging so you can communicate with patients on their terms. This approach ensures you maximize engagement, boost treatment rates, and create a streamlined patient experience that supports healthy outcomes.
Some of the features we offer that will directly benefit your communication cadence includes:
If you would like to learn more about how Adit's practice management software can innovate your reminder process, reach out to our team to schedule a free demo. We'd love to share how our digital tools can reduce costly no-shows and cancellations to help your dental office achieve sustainable growth and outstanding patient care experiences.
Angela is a former English teacher turned marketing content specialist. Over the past 10 years, she’s developed marketing strategies to forge enduring bonds between B2B, B2C and SaaS companies and their clients through holistic education, effective communication, and captivating storytelling that moves audiences to act.
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