At the beginning of the year I make a  business strategy for the coming year. I review leases and equipment expenses, insurance payments, as well as office and staff productivity. It’s tedious stuff, but it’s got to be done.

Like most chiropractors, we experience a small dip in appointments in the first quarter. This isn’t particularly surprising since many people are still recovering from the financial excesses of the holiday, while others must budget to meet their yearly deductibles. However, even if expected, this minor slow down made me think about what we could do to improve our productivity and update our marketing.

Patient no-shows cost our practice thousands per year

Kerrin has often pointed out (grumbled might be a better word) about the frustrations of patient no shows. To be honest, I had always considered them a fact of life. I had read that most medical offices average about 20% missed appointments. Although our stats weren’t quite that high, we averaged 3-4 missed appointments every day.

To overcome the problem, we compensated by overbooking a few appointments. Not a perfect solution, but it cut down on the scheduling gaps that no shows created. Of course when every patient showed up, it left us struggling to keep up.

image of a text appointment reminderPreviously we had tried designating a staff member to call and remind every patient of their appointment, but it simply required too much time. Our staffing levels are too lean to lose an hour or two each day making reminder phone calls.

So Kerrin and I decided to turn to technology to reduce our patient no-shows. She approached me with the idea of a text appointment reminder system. I liked the concept—a simple text message sent to each patient with a short message from our office—but I was concerned about cost.

Sure enough, when we started researching text appointment reminder systems we found many of the program’s high costs were better suited to the budgets of physicians or high dollar attorneys than those of chiropractors. Some of the more popular programs charged monthly subscription prices of up to $400, while others required you to buy software costing $1000 or more.

Also, most of the programs were complex, offering more features than we needed, which not only bumped up the price, but also the training time.

Complex and expensive programs made us think outside the box

I was about to give up on the whole technology idea when Kerrin proposed an alternative.  She suggested hiring a programmer to develop a text appointment reminder system specifically for the needs of chiropractic professionals.

To be honest, I had my doubts. I’m not exactly an early adopter. I’ll reluctantly admit that I only recently traded in my traditional mobile phone for an iPhone. Kerrin, on the other hand, loves technology. She grabs every new gadget she can.  And she’s constantly searching for new ways to introduce more technology into the practice.

Frankly, it’s more than I have time to deal with.

But through her experience as an online copywriter and website developer, she has met many talented people, so I was game.  She approached on particularly talented programmer and asked if he’d be willing to develop a simple text reminder program that could be used by small businesses – one that would require little or no staff training to use.

For busy offices, simple is best

A few weeks later, we had exactly what we wanted, a simple and effective text reminder program that our staff was able to learn in about 5 minutes.

In the first 2 days of use we had we had no missed appointments! One day 3, we had one. For the two months we’ve been using the system, our missed appointments have dropped to about 3 to 4%. It’s obvious that the increased productivity and extra appointment will easily cover our initial investment. In fact our records tell us we’re on track to boost revenue from missed appointment sby about $30,000 over the course of this year.

Besides the increased revenue, I’m also enjoying the responses I’ve received from patients. Many people have gone out of their way to compliment me on our new technology and have thanked me for the appointment reminders. This backs up the research which states that more people like receiving text messages even over phone calls or email.

Considering how economical and effective the system is, we felt other chiropractors would benefit from such a program as well.image of text appointment reminder system So we’ve decided to make the appointment reminder system available to other docs at a price that any practice can afford.

If can you see the benefit of having an fast and easy way to remind your patients of their upcoming appointments without draining your staff’s resources, then this system is for you.

Highlights of the Chiro Appointment Reminder System

  • Set up is simple and doesn’t require you to own a website or even an email address.
  • The system is intuitive and requires no special training. Your staff will be up in running in 10 minutes.
  • There is no contract and you can cancel at any time.
  • Your first week is free. Just pay a small set up fee and you’ll have a full week to test out the system and enjoy the savings.
  • Affordable for even the smallest practice. Reminder plans start at $14.95 per month.
  • There is no need for your patients to “opt-in” to receive messages. Current FTC regulations exclude patients reminders from this rule.

Want to see the program in action? Watch the short video below.


 

About the Author

Dr. James Mixon


James Mixon is co-editor of the Chiropractic Marketing Guide and a chiropractor in active practice in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area. He is married and the father of three young, active children.


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