Vaccinations are important, as everyone knows, but it's also important to remember that people do have busy lives. As such, it's normal that, sometimes, people can forget that their vaccination appointment is coming up. And that means that, unless they remember at the very last minute, then they'll miss their appointment. And that has consequences for the patient, the medical facility, and even society as a whole. They don't want to miss their appointment, and you don't want to have an empty slot in your schedule.

While you can never guarantee that 100% of people will turn up for their appointments, you can go a long way to making it more likely by using healthcare appointment reminders via text message. In this blog, you'll find all you need to know about texting patients' appointments, including the process, the benefits, and the best practices that'll ensure your approach is beneficial to your practice and your patients.

Sending Vaccination Reminders

If the world is going to beat the coronavirus, then it’s important that as many people as possible are vaccinated. However, for that to happen, those people will need to travel to a medical facility to receive the shot from a professional. While many people are familiar with this process, not everyone will be. There’ll be some people who rarely visit a medical center, if ever. And that means that they’ll be less likely to be familiar with the process of making and attending an appointment. By sending vaccination reminders right to the person’s phone, you’ll be making it much less likely that they’ll forget the appointment. 

Sending vaccine reminders doesn’t just help your patients, either. It’ll also have a positive impact on your business. We’re lucky to have the coronavirus vaccine, but there’s not an endless supply. The issue is that once the vial is opened, there’s a limited amount of time before the vaccine goes to bed. By sending a reminder, you’ll be making it much less likely that the person will miss the appointment -- and that the dose goes to waste. 

High Open Rate

There are various ways to communicate with your patients. You can send them an email, give them a call, or send a letter to their house. While there are some instances when one of these methods will work well, it’s best to go down the automated text message route when it comes to vaccination reminders. And there are many good reasons why this should be the case. One is that text messages have a high open-rate. People may not always check their email or answer their phones, but they read text messages. One study suggests that somewhere in the region of 98% of text messages are opened -- and not only that, but they’re opened quickly. The majority are ready within 30 minutes of being received. That means that there’s an extremely high probability that the message will get through. 

In Your Hands

The process of sending vaccination reminders via text is automated. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stand on the side. While the process is automatic, you’ll have a big say in how it works. For instance, you can schedule messages in advance, so you’ll have peace of mind that the message is going out when you want it to go out. You can also make it so that the message comes from your business phone number. You’ll have access to the replies, too, so you’ll be able to carry on the conversations away from automation. This gives you the best of both worlds -- you can sit back, safe in the knowledge that the necessary messages are being sent out, while also knowing that you can take over and speak to your patients directly if it’s required.

Branding and Personalization

Of course, sending out vaccination reminders doesn’t have to be exclusively “functional.” By using the right service, you’ll be able to brand your messages, so the communications your patients receive feel like they’ve come from your facility. It’s also easy to personalize your message -- rather than receiving a generic message, your patient will receive a message that includes their first name and appointment time. You can also write and save your own template, which allows you to tell your patient exactly what you want them to know -- nothing more, nothing less. 

Benefits For Your Patients

It’s easy for people to forget their responsibilities, even if it’s something as important as visiting a healthcare provider to receive a vaccination shot. Unless they’ve written the date down (and remembered where they wrote it down), they’ll be going off memory -- and, of course, memory can be pretty unreliable from time to time. Without a reminder, they may turn up on a wrong day -- and having already visited once (at the wrong time), they’ll be less likely to return at another date.

Sending a vaccination reminder does away with this problem. If you include the specific date and time of their appointment, and send it to them at the right time, then the appointment will be at the forefront of their mind. They’ll be less likely to forget the appointment if they receive the reminder around 24 hours beforehand. 

Not that a patient has to necessarily be at risk of forgetting the appointment to appreciate a text reminder. As a healthcare provider, you’ll hope that your patients know that you have their best interests at heart. You’ll aim to provide a full service, one that maximizes the patient experience wherever possible. Sending an SMS vaccine reminder won’t change your patient’s life, but it will create a positive experience. 

Benefits For Your Company

To ensure that your medical facility runs as smoothly as possible, it’s essential that you’re maximizing the number of people who come through the door. However, it’s important to remember that there’s a big difference between having appointments in the schedule and having people attending those appointments. According to research, around 42% of healthcare patients fail to show for their appointments. Sometimes, that’s for a reason that you can do nothing about -- they just didn’t want to go. It was intentional. But very often, patients miss their appointment for non-intentional reasons. The appointment just slipped their mind. And this is something that you can do something about. 

By sending a message through to their phone, you’ll be greatly enhancing the chances that they’ll turn up to their appointment. The end result will be fewer missed appointments, smoother processes, and more income. It’ll essentially prevent the disorganization that can occur when people either miss their appointments entirely or who turn up at the wrong time. 

Smart Ways to Send Vaccine Reminders 

We’ve already discussed the advantages of sending vaccination reminders. However, it’s important that you’re sending the right kinds of messages, and following the best practices. If you get things right, then you’ll find that the service does nothing but elevate the patient experience. Get things wrong, however, and you might find that you frustrate your patients -- and that’s something that you’ll most definitely want to avoid! The good news is that sending a beneficial message isn’t all that complicated. If you follow a few simple rules, then you’ll be on the right track.

Don’t Overload Your Patients.

We talk about vaccination reminders but don’t let the plural tone fool you. You should not be sending multiple messages to your patients. If you do, then you’ll only end up annoying them. You’ll know from your own experience of receiving reminder messages that while one or two can be extremely useful, it can be frustrating to receive many messages. As such, be sure to keep things respectful. You might consider sending a confirmation text when they first make the appointment and then another beforehand. There’s probably no need to send any more than those two. If you have to choose between the two, go with the latter. 

Keep The Message Simple

There’s no value in sending a long, overcomplicated message to your patients. The goal is to ensure that your patients engage with the message, and if it’s too long, they’ll be more likely to close the message without reading all of it. So be sure to keep things simple. When it comes to the information you’re going to include, think about what’s really necessary and what isn’t. A message that outlines the patient’s name, the time and date of their appointment, and some information about where it’ll take place will probably suffice, along with what they should do if they have to cancel or change the appointment. If you want to add more information that’s not specifically related to the appointment details, you can include a link to your website. 

As well as the content of the message, it can be a good idea to ensure that the text is well written. The message should be clearly understood by everyone, regardless of their reading level. If you’re not sure about the best way to craft a message, then consider hiring a copywriter to do the job for you.

Is a Response Required?

You can make your appointment reminders a one-way or two-way conversation. If it’s a one-way conversation, then you’ll just send out the message and expect that they’ll read it and comply. However, you’ll also have the option of making this a two-way conversation. In this format, they’ll need to do something to confirm the appointment. This could be replying to the message, giving you a call, or clicking a link. Whether you do this will depend on your operations and whatever feels the most appropriate. This will, of course, require an additional step on behalf of your patients, and it can be a little risky. Sometimes, people won’t take the time to confirm the appointment but will still turn up. That’s why most facilities don’t require a response. 

Don’t Be Generic 

It’s recommended that you should try to keep things personal whenever you can. That applies to all types of communication you have with your patients. If they feel like you’re addressing them personally, then that’ll lend itself to a pretty positive experience. By using the right text messaging software, you’ll be able to include their name in the message. That looks much better than saying “dear valued patient” or anything else that’s overly generic. However, it’ll also be important not to get too personal. Using a name is fine, but you shouldn’t share any personal details. Doing so wouldn’t just be wrong for your patient -- it may also be illegal.

Assert Your Legitimacy 

People rightly have some concerns when it comes to their personal details. They’ll want to know that whoever is sending them a message is a legitimate organization that will not wrong them in any way. While it’s not nice to think about, some people out there try to scam the public. As such, it’ll be vital that you work hard to allay any fears your patient might have about the message that you’re sending. Since this is just a vaccination reminder, there’ll be no reason to include anything too personal. As we said above, you’ll really only need to include their name, and that’s it. If you’re going to include a link in the text, make it to a general page, rather than a page that requires a login. If they have any doubts about the legitimacy of the text, then they might be more inclined to believe that it’s a scam. Plus, this could more broadly harm your brand. To build a positive relationship with your patients, they must trust you. And if they’re getting your text messages confused with scam messages, then it’ll be challenging to build that trust!

When to Send a Message

To maximize the effectiveness of your vaccination reminder, you’ll need to ensure that you’re sending them at the right time. There’s little value in sending a message several weeks before the appointment because there’ll be too much time between when they receive the message and the appointment. That’ll leave plenty of time for your patient to forget the appointment again! So it’s best to avoid sending the reminder too early on. However, on the other hand, it’s best to avoid sending the message too late in the day. Sending a reminder text two hours before the appointment would not be effective because if the patient has forgotten, then it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to reschedule their other plans to make it to the appointment. They’ll still miss the appointment, but they’ll know that they’re going to miss it. 

First Shot, Second Shot

There are multiple ways you can use text messaging to remind patients to get their coronavirus vaccination. In many cases, people will need to receive two shots, not just one. By utilizing a vaccination reminder system, such as Text-Em-All, you can let patients know when it’s their time to get their first shot and when it’s time to get their second shot. It’s arguably more important to send a reminder for the second shot than the first because it’s vital to get the second shot within a specific time frame for it to be effective. 

Standby Shots

You don’t necessarily need to send vaccination reminder messages. You can also send messages when you know you have availability for people to get their coronavirus shot. Many people are eager to get their vaccine; it’s just that they have to wait for it a little. If they have the opportunity to get one earlier than expected, then they’ll take it. If you have a day where multiple people cancel their vaccination appointment, and you have a host of doses left over, then you can use text messages to let people know. This will help you to make the most of missed appointments and also to preserve vaccinations. Given there’s a finite number of vaccinations, it’s important that none go to waste. 

Beyond Coronavirus 

Of course, you don’t have to only use the text messaging service for the coronavirus vaccine. That’s the vaccine of the year, but it’s not the only way. You can send reminders to let your patients know that they get their flu shot or when it’s time for their child to receive a vaccination. 

Public Service 

Finally, one of the other benefits of vaccination reminders is that they ensure as many people as possible are vaccinated. The easier it is for people to get their vaccination, the closer we’ll be to moving on from the pandemic -- and that’s something that everyone is looking forward to.

As we’ve seen, texting vaccination reminders to your patients can have many benefits for them, you, and society at large. If you’re ready to get started with your SMS reminder service, then be sure to give Text-Em-All a try. It’s a service that’ll streamline your operations and significantly improve your patient’s experience of your facility.