Missed appointments are one of those not-so-obvious ways hospitals are losing money each year. The reported cost is an astonishing $150 billion dollars per year in missed revenue. When health systems let appointments remain unfilled, it’s time to address these problems with a modern solution. Keeping patients connected throughout the care journey is a challenge we are constantly working with our hospital clients to improve, and starting with getting patients in the door (and on time) is one of the best places to start.

In this blog, I’ll share a few different ways you can use mobile apps to help reduce no-shows and how to get started.

Keeping patients engaged on mobile

The vast majority of patients are on smartphones, with millennials currently representing a larger population than baby boomers as they continue to enter the health system in record numbers. Does your hospital make appointments as simple as possible for these tech-savvy patients? For me, the process usually begins with a bunch of paperwork, and maybe a follow up call or text alerting me that my prescriptions or lab results are ready.

I then must log in to my patient portal, and painstakingly navigate through an outdated interface in order to receive information I need.  Reminders that I have an upcoming appointment are usually take the form of a phone call  (from a number I don’t recognize to begin with). I then usually call back to confirm, but the entire process is outdated and in need of change.

Viewing appointment times through an app, or simply verifying an existing time slot with the tap of a button would make life easier for not only myself as a patient, but any healthcare staff member needing to free up some time.

Implementing technology in healthcare to help address these problems is typically slow, but by implementing an agile mobile strategy, many hospitals we work with are able to launch apps quicker than ever. That’s good news considering the check-in process and consumer experience elsewhere. From banking to travel, we expect an optimized experience from within an app, so why not healthcare?

You may be thinking that access to appointments or other health data is already available in mobile apps – which it is. The question becomes how to deploy this technology within service lines like oncology or OB/GYN without a multi-million dollar budget. For more information on how hospitals are creating these very specific service line apps, check out our blueprints program.

Setting alerts and notifications

Another benefit to providing an app for patients – whether it be in your Ob/GYN service line or any other area, is the ability to push valuable content out to patients as efficiently as possible. Notifications and alerts are perfect for driving attendance to classes or events, as well as reminding patients when to begin fasting before bloodwork (for example). Here are a few ideas for using push notifications that we’ve seen successful in boosting HCAHPS scores:

Use case: OB/GYN service line

For parents who are expecting, alerts can be used for a variety of use cases including:

  • Milestones – Sending notifications to mothers throughout each phase of pregnancy. After a mother enters her due date, she is reminded throughout the pregnancy process what symptoms she may experience, how large the baby is, and how many weeks she has left.
  • Appointments – Tracking appointments is a dedicated function that can be built in to any healthcare app blueprint
  • Classes and events – Notifications make information related to events like class cancellations, openings, or deadlines easy to communicate to a large audience.
Mom setting appointment on pregnancy app

Organizing appointments inside the app

Keeping track of a patient’s appointments from a dedicated mobile app is a really convenient way to manage the entire care process. For example, when scheduling an appointment at my dentist (for example), I usually launch the calendar app to check my availability before adding a new appointment. These appointments often get mixed in with other meetings, and would be more convenient to view all at once, especially when multiple follow-up appointments are necessary.

It’s okay for one-off appointments that occur a few times per year, but for keeping track of a series of appointments and tests, being able to view an appointment schedule and anything I need to bring beforehand is key.

Simplifying the navigation experience

Especially for larger facilities, it can be difficult for first-time visitors to navigate to where they need to be on time. Wayfinding is a feature that hospitals can use to help guests arrive on time and avoid getting lost. Click here to learn more about how wayfinding works and what options are available. You can either implement this type of solution outdoors (in parking lots or garages) or indoors.

With the goal being to get patients from point A to point B as quickly as possible, wayfinding can help patients find parking easier, find facilities quicker, and not have to stop for directions or view signage.

How to get started

Studies have shown that 23 percent of patients don’t show up to appointments unless reminded, which is why it’s so important to have a long term strategy in place. There are a number of ways providers can keep patients educated and reminded, but many are simply not that efficient, leading to high annual printing costs (reminder cards), and extra work for staff members. To learn more about how a mobile app could help address these challenges for  patients and employees, request a demo today.