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Сall the patient or just send a reminder?

The reminder serves two purposes. The first is obviously to remind the patient of the planned visit and, in fact, to provide the most convenient service for him. Who can’t agree more: customer service is great!

The second: to find out as quickly as possible if the patient is coming or if not for whatever reason. This helps to prevent the loss of time. Yes, in some countries the visit is paid even if the patient was unable to come. But this amount cannot compensate for the loss of possible profits. Since the treatment carried out is significantly more expensive than the amount of responsibility that the patient pays for missing the booked time. At the same time, in many countries clinics do not practice such things at all so as not to lose their loyalty.

In this article, we are not to analyze in detail the numbers and mathematics of the problem, but you will easily calculate how much much money is lost for each cancellation or postponement of the visit.

Let's look upon at the main options for solving this problem:

- E-Mail
- Push notification in apps
- SMS
- Call
- Post on social networks
- Message in messengers


Conditionally let’s divide these info channels into 2 groups: free and paid.

Free: e-mail, push notifications in apps.
Paid or requiring regular investment: SMS, calls, messages on social networks, messages in instant messengers.

Let's take a quick look at the free ones. In most cases, email is used to notify a patient of a scheduled dental appointment. The problem with this kind of reminder is that e-mail is actively used by unscrupulous companies for spam mailings. Therefore, there is a high probability that the patient will miss the message among a huge amount of new spam letters. What’s more: their mail service can identify your letter also as spam.

Push notifications for applications on a mobile phone or home computer can also be considered a free format. There are many solutions for a patient to use, for instance, a mobile application to sign up and receive notifications only from this app.
The main disadvantage of such channels is that the patient does not always see them and react to them.

Using a call, SMS, or a message in social networks and messengers often has to waste material or human resources. 
With SMS you need to keep a sufficient amount on the account and set up automatic sending at the time of registration or the day before the visit, or better on both dates. The chance that the patient will look at the SMS is higher than that of the email. However, as with e-mail, there still may be no patient feedback.
Reminders in messengers or social networks face another con: a person may just not use them. Moreover, the data may differ when getting registered at the clinic from those in the media sphere. For instance, if the messenger is linked to another SIM card.

The last option today is a phone call. At first glance seems that the call is perfect from all sides. It allows you to remind the patient of the visit and immediately identify whether he/she is coming or not, and thereby increase the dentistry's profit by reducing canceled visits.

But, as is well known, there are no ideal solutions, and each seemingly obvious point should be considered in different contexts:

- Financial
- Cultural
- Technical

Financial context. If human labor is used to make calls, then pay attention to the costs. The creation of an additional workplace in the clinic may not justify the task of saving money. Use a contact center for this task as an option. In addition, modern clinics of any size can use artificial intelligence for solving various tasks, including completely or partially replacing the contact center manager for calls and notifications, for correspondence in chats and mail. We will discuss in more detail this issue in other articles.

Cultural context. There is a fairly significant difference in the use of calls in different countries. In some places, a reminder call can cause negative emotions, since it does not quite correspond to the cultural norms of a particular country. On the contrary, in a number of states, only a telephone call can be considered a reliable way of delivering information to a person. Moving against the generally accepted norms can both significantly distinguish the clinic from others with excellent service, and cause negativity from the side of patients.

Technical context. It, in turn, depends on the legislation of a particular country. Technical restrictions such as blocking certain applications, spam laws, and other legal restrictions that may affect how information is passed on to a patient.

Output:

Obviously, visit info is a vital part of working, but the choice of a specific channel depends on several parameters that should be taken into account. The ideal option is to combine multiple patient communication channels. As the clinic develops, their choices may change. The use of phone calls depends on each specific situation.