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Medical Practice 101 - What To Look For In An Appointment Reminder Service?

Feb 8, 2008
Using a telephone appointment reminder service, or notification service, for your medical or health practice can be considered a financially advantageous investment if you are a private practice owner or a small business owner. Not only can using an appointment notification service free-up some of the demand placed on your front-desk staff so that they can cater to patients and customers in the lobby; ultimately, these time and money-saving services can improve the overall effectiveness and even the reach of your business.

However, there are many choices available when it comes to choosing a telephone appointment reminder service, so what key traits should you be looking for in a reminder service?

Avoid a large up-front investment

Because the field of appointment notification services is competitive, there is no reason that you should have to fork over a lot of money up-front for the services. Just because a company has impeccable reviews and a history of providing top-notch services does not mean that things will remain that way indefinitely. If you pay for these notification services on an annual or semi-annual term and things "go south" with the service, you might end up losing a lot of money.

When choosing an appointment reminder service, look for companies that offer month to month payments and preferably a free trial; this way if things do happen to take a turn for the worse, you're not locked into a long-term contract and out a significant sum of money. If you can find such a company that offers a free-trial, that's an added bonus; this way you can try out the services before you send the company even one penny.

Avoid services that require on-going maintenance

Some telephone appointment reminder services require practice owners to purchase or maintain specialized hardware or software, such as Windows-based software, in order to use their services; this can be a time-consuming and frustrating option, especially for those who are not technologically proficient. In cases where doctors or business owners need to purchase specialized software or hardware, it can be a financial hardship as well; some of these setups will cost you into the thousands of dollars for the specialized tools alone, and this doesn't even include the cost of the notification services themselves.

Generally it's best to look for a notification service that doesn't require specialized hardware or software to be installed at your office location; there are services that are solely web-based, and for the non-technical doctor or business owner, web-based reminder services are generally the easiest and least cost-prohibitive.

Look for a reminder service that provides "call-backs"

Appointment notification services are offered as a convenience for your business or practice, otherwise there would be no demand for these types of services. Whether you are a doctor, dentist or a health-spa owner, you benefit greatly when your appointment reminder service offers "call-backs" or reminders sent out to your customers and patients asking them to make a follow-up appointment. Some call-back services will even relay messages that are put into the system; this is seen as a major benefit and is available with certain telephone appointment reminder services.

Look for an appointment reminder service that functions as a "backup" receptionist

When you're looking for the best investment in terms of an appointment reminder service, look for one that can handle overflow calls during peak periods while your office is open, take appointments when your front-desk receptionist is away for lunch or even handle incoming calls when your office is closed. By choosing a telephone appointment reminder service that can handle incoming calls during busy periods and even take appointments when your office is closed, you are improving the efficiency of your office, and your patrons will take notice.

While there are certainly many options available when it comes to choosing a telephone appointment reminder service for your office, not all answering solutions provide the same types of services, and certainly not all of these solutions are affordable in the long term. If you take this small list to heart and reference it when you're weighing out your options for an affordable notification service, chances are you'll save yourself some money and quite a few headaches as well.
About the Author
This article is number six in a series By Andy Press about Medical Receptionist, Answing Service and Online Scheduling. Additional resources and articles written by Andy Press related to Medical Practices Efficiency are accessible on line.
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