Quick poll: Raise your hand if you feel like your staff’s time could be better spent doing almost anything other than admin work and answering the phones.
Although I can’t see you, my guess is that you raised your hand along with almost every other doc if they were asked the same question.
Of course the admin work and answering the phones still needs to get done.
But who does it and how it gets done is up for question. That’s where automation comes in.
Automating your front desk processes will give your staff the freedom to start working on those big ticket items like having intentional interactions with your patients, running marketing campaigns, and planning community events.
Wondering where you can get started with leveraging automation to free up your team’s time? Here are four processes that my team has automated:
Tip #1: First Visit Follow-up
In my office, it’s always been a high value to make sure that someone from my team is reaching out to new patients after their first visit. To see how they’re feeling, make sure they’re staying hydrated, and just make sure they know that we were glad to see them that day. It really does make a difference when you’re trying to craft an exceptional patient experience.
Although this task is of high importance in my office, I realized that my staff didn’t need to be the ones physically calling or texting my patients after each visit in order to make them feel cared for. We decided to implement an automated text message that would be triggered to send about two hours after the patient’s first appointment. The results? 10/10. Happy patients and numerous hours saved each week.
Tip #2: Missed Appointments
In a perfect world, patients would never run late and never miss appointments. But we’re all met with the inconvenience of patients running behind or no-showing at least a few times per week. And what makes it worse? The time it takes to have your staff call to check in with them or get them to reschedule their appointment.
Our solution? Send out an automated text message to trigger 8-10 minutes after a patient misses their appointment to check in with them. If they still didn’t show after that, send another text 30 minutes after the missed appointment to get them back on our schedule.
We also leverage the SKED app which allows patients to reschedule their appointment on their own. So in that second follow-up text, we send patients a link to the app to have them reschedule completely on their own, saving my team multiple hours of phone calls.
Tip #3: New Patient Intake & Outreach
Spending some time crafting the best possible experience for your new patients is essential to the long-term health of your business. In our office, this translates to prompt communication and confirmation, education, and appreciation. Cheesy, I know, but it works!
We’ve used automation to streamline our new patient intake and outreach in a few ways both to lift the burden on my team as well as create an easier and more pleasant experience for the new patient. First, we implemented a portal on our site using a short snippet of HTML code that would allow patients to schedule their first appointment through our site and choose which time works best for them. Using the new patient portal also automatically creates a new patient file in our EHR software immediately after the appointment is requested and blocks that time on our schedule.
Secondly, after that patient schedules, a confirmation email is automatically triggered to send including new patient paperwork for them to fill out prior to their appointment, a video from myself introducing the new patient to our office and educating them on what they can expect at the first visit, directions to the office, and a confirmation for the day and time of their appointment.
Tip #4: Rescheduling
I touched on this a bit up top when I talked about automation for missed appointments, but I wanted to bring it up again here. Having patients call to cancel or reschedule appointments was hands-down one of the biggest time sucks for my team. They were spending an outrageous amount of time answering the phone to move someone’s appointment from 3pm to 4:30pm, for example. Again, important, but their time could be better spent elsewhere.
How did we combat this? We allowed patients to start cancelling and rescheduling appointments on their own through an app that then syncs back with our EHR. I know what you might be thinking: “How can we count on them not to forget? Don’t we need to follow-up to make sure they get back on the calendar?” The key to this is making sure you find a software that will also allow you to automate the follow-up process when people need an extra nudge to schedule to make sure no one slips through the cracks.
Automation is a powerful tool that can save hours of your team’s time so they can start focusing on the thing that really matters: engaging with your patients. I hope these tips help!
If you’re ready to take the next step in setting up automations that will help your office thrive, schedule a free demo with my team today to learn more about how we can help.
Until Next Time,