Practice Management

How We Reduced Our No-Show Rate from 5% to 3% & Doubled Our Recall Rate

A vision therapy patient in Drs. Licaus’s and Zilnicki’s practice that has completed her program. Automated recall makes it easier for patients and their families to stay on top of all of their therapy appointments.

By Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD,
and Jessica Licausi, OD, FAAO, FCOVD

August 31, 2022

Getting patients to return on time for care can be difficult with the many competing interests in patients’ lives. Sometimes the solution to getting more patients to return consistently is process-driven. In our case, it was a matter of getting the needed technological help.

Here are the details on how we turned around our recall rate and sharply reduced our no-show rate.

Manual Recall Phone Calls Only Take You So Far
One year ago, we realized that the phone calls our staff were making to recall patients were not effective enough. We made the decision to add automated recall. We chose Weave, however, there are many other systems to choose from, including Demandforce, Solutionreach and Simplifeye, among other recall/patient communication technologies.

Being a smaller practice, manual recall phone calls worked well for us in the early days of our vision therapy-focused, cold-start practice. As we grew, this task became increasingly burdensome for our staff as our schedule and the number of providers seeing patients increased. To combat this, we prioritized confirming our exam appointment slots, and not our vision therapy slots, due to time and staff constraints.

Our vision therapy patients often come in for 1-2 vision therapy sessions per week and often keep similar dates/times for their sessions. We also always provide a printout of their upcoming vision therapy appointments for those patients who like to schedule out their whole program. In theory, this system worked, but in practice, and especially as we grew, we began to see a HUGE no-show rate; particularly within our vision therapy patient population. This was a major instigator for us to look into adding automated recall.

Making the Investment Into Improved Recall
Our recall technology cost us around $7,000 in initial fees. Our upcoming annual renewal fee will be around $5,400.

This may seem like a steep cost to add into your practice, but it has become an invaluable asset to us in keeping our schedule full, our staff efficient and managing communication with our patients. In addition to the automated recalls, our system has a message system built in where confirmation texts go out automatically (we have ours set to one day prior), which we can also utilize to communicate directly with our patients via text messages. It has another messaging system for inter-office communication, which we have love having!

Our platform integrates with our EHR and phone system. It tells us the name of the patient calling if they’ve been entered into our EHR system previously. Confirmations and cancellations get pulled directly into our EHR, and the patient schedule automatically updates accordingly. We also can directly send patients bills through the messaging platform and receive payments that get pulled into the billing portion of our EHR.

Another communication benefit is that we can access the system on our phones. We then have mobile access to our patient schedule and messaging capability with patients via phone or texts. In the event of an office closure, we can use the application to contact our patients remotely from the office phone number without having to physically be in the office.

Drs. Licausi and Zilnicki say that automated messaging has turned around their recall and no-show rates.

Automated Recall ROI
After implementing automated recall, our no-show rate was reduced from 5 percent  to 3.3 percent, and our recall rate doubled!

A large percentage of our vision therapy patients have experienced a traumatic brain injury. Within this population it can be common to have memory difficulties, and these patients are often juggling multiple appointments per week with various providers. We find that, by providing them with their text message confirmation the day prior to their session, their compliance and memory of appointments with us has significantly improved.

We have received nothing but positive feedback from our patients. Our vision therapy patients love the reminders for their session appointments. For those who prefer not to receive the text message the day before, and prefer to keep track of their appointments on their own, there is always the option to “opt out.”

Instead of patients just “no-showing,” and not calling, they can simply respond “No” to a text message. We are then more readily able to fill cancellations for the following day.

Our automated recall has also helped our patient receivable system be more efficient because the platform has the capability to send patients a text message with their invoice, so the patient can pay their bill directly from their phone. This has allowed our patient care coordinator to maximize her time in the office as the process of sending out the link and text message is much less time consuming than having to manually create an invoice, print it and mail it. An added benefit of this is that we aren’t spending money on paper, envelopes and postage, which adds up quickly.

Designate a Recall Point Person to Interact with Technology
Our office manager has become the point person for utilizing our recall platform. She is the one who encouraged us to start researching recall technologies. She found the one we chose and ran through a demo of the program for us. She did a presentation for us about what wasn’t working in our current system for confirmations and all the ways this technology could benefit our practice. We then sat through demos of the platform ourselves and agreed.

Do Your Due Diligence Before Choosing an Automated Recall System
Run through demos of the platform to ensure it is a good fit for your practice, especially with the existing technology you have, such as your EHR. Read tech support reviews of the platform you are looking into; they were crucial to integrating this technology into our practice and ensuring a smooth transition.

Miki Lyn Zilnicki, OD, FCOVD, and Jessica
Licausi, OD, FAAO,
FCOVD, are co-owners of Twin Forks Optometry and Vision Therapy in Riverhead, NY.

To contact Dr. Zilnicki: DrZilnicki@twinforksoptometry.com.

To contact Dr. Licausi: DrLicausi@twinforksoptometry.com

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