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Appointment Reminders

Mental health and addictions professionals require tools. For a couple decades, Terry McLeod has been a trailblazer providing those tools in the form of Electronic ...Read More

Because I am expected by my current healthcare provider, I spend less time in the waiting room and no time filling out forms. That’s a far cry from my experience with other healthcare professionals. In times past, an appointment didn’t matter; I was destined to wait, and was always filling out forms with the same information.

My current healthcare provider delivers physical and mental health treatment, everything except dentistry, and for every appointment, I receive a couple reminders, and that’s an effective perk for a forgetful guy like me. First, there’s a printed reminder in the mail. It’s a very clear letter that simply states the date, time and place for the appointment, and who I’m meeting. It’s a wonderful thing to have all this attention paid to me and my poor memory. Incidentally, I record the appointment both in Outlook on my desktop and synchronize that to my BlackBerry. A day or two prior to my appointment, I get a telephone reminder. I’m fond of reminders, and apparently a lot of folks appreciate them; a few years ago, a study at the University of Rochester in New York showed over 75% of those polled thought they were a good idea.

I go with the flow, and make my appointments. It’s easy for me to assume these sorts of systems work. The letter can be generated by many scheduling systems that are built into the EHR, and a number of automated telephone-reminder systems are available to integrate into the scheduling system. I searched the internet and immediately came up with an option that looks like it would work from Stauffer Technologies in Cleveland. If I was in the market, I’d check it out further.

The letter is generated by the computer as part of EHR, most EHR reporting systems will tap the database to send out form letters. The telephone calls are generated by the computer interfacing the EHR to an automatic system with a computer generated message. I am simply not a “No-Show” because of this attention, and since these reminders are automated, nobody needs to write or print a letter, and nobody has to call me. These technical solutions contribute to the bottom line and can help assure that struggling mental health clinics will be around to help consumers as the business continues to change.

In Community Mental Health Centers, No-Shows account for tremendous revenue losses simply because they leave professionals sitting around doing nothing, or perpetuating the myth that they need that time to catch up on their paperwork. In August, I quoted a study commissioned by the National Council (the mental health community’s most popular support organization). One of the agencies in the study showed a professional had a couple No-Shows a month and canceled another couple to “catch up on paperwork” (see my past posts discussing collaborative documentation for another solution). No-Shows hurt mental health treatment facilities.

I can’t help but think that the possibility of No Shows is decreased for more folks than me by the use of letters and telephone calls generated by the EHR…they certainly get me into the office.

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