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Reminder calls for patient appointments
We understand that there are times when you must miss an appointment due to emergencies or obligations for work or family. However, when you do not call to cancel an appointment, you may be preventing another patient from getting much-needed treatment. Conversely, the situation may arise where another patient fails to cancel and we are unable to schedule you for a visit, due to a seemingly “full” appointment book.
To ensure MSH can continually provide extraordinary care – which includes managing our wait list and times, and providing access to the right care at the right time – for our patients, their families and the community, the hospital has implemented a reminder call program in select program areas. This is an automated call that will remind you of an upcoming appointment at the MSH and ask you to confirm that appointment.
1. What is an automated reminder system (ARS)?
The ARS is an electronic system that is used to provide telephone, email or text reminders to patients of scheduled appointments.
2. Why is ARS being implemented at this time?
ARS is being implemented to remind patients of their upcoming appointment(s). Sometimes patients forget appointments or experience unplanned life events which result in missed appointments. The ARS will provide a reminder during the week before a patient’s scheduled appointment so that patients may confirm an appointment and carry out any preparations needed. If a patient informs MSH that they are unable to attend the appointment, this will allow other patients to be booked in any unfilled appointment slots.
The number of ‘no shows’ or missed appointments are a concern for MSH. When a patient doesn’t show at the appointed time, or doesn’t give sufficient cancellation notice, there is no time to offer that appointment to another patient. This results in underutilized staff and equipment resources, and lost procedure time, resulting in large wait lists and increased wait time for care.
3. How will MSH know how I would like to receive my reminders?
MSH will only sending reminders through telephone at this time. As the program evolves, there may be opportunity to look at text and email options.
4. How does it work?
The ARS is used to remind you by telephone of an upcoming scheduled appointment during the week prior to your appointment. Appointment reminders will be made to your phone. Your primary phone number given at registration will be used for the reminder. You are then able to confirm or request to cancel/reschedule the appointment.
5. What time will the ARS send reminders to patients?
Reminders will be made during the evening between 5 – 9 p.m. local time.
6. What name or number will show up on my telephone caller ID?
The name ‘MSH Appointment’ or the telephone number 905-472-7373 will appear on the telephone caller ID.
Note: If you return a call to this number, you will reach the general hospital line.
7. What information will be provided in the reminder?
The day, date, time, department of the scheduled appointment and special instructions will be identified within the message. You are reminded to bring your health card to the appointment.
8. When I receive a reminder, how will I confirm or cancel the appointment?
At the start of the reminder call, the ARS will say who the call is for and you will be asked to confirm your identity (i.e., this is a call for ‘John Smith’). Once you have confirmed your name, you will hear the reminder and will be asked to press 1 to indicate you will be attending your scheduled appointment or press 2 to cancel or reschedule the appointment. If you press 2 to cancel or reschedule your appointment, MSH staff will call you the next business day.
9. What happens if I make a mistake by pressing a wrong selection?
If you accidentally press a wrong selection during the reminder, there are several opportunities to return to the main menu to correct the selection.
10. I have a voicemail and I seldom answer my telephone; what happens in that case?
If there is no answer and there is a voicemail, the ARS is configured to leave a message on the voicemail.
11. What happens if I am not at home when the ARS calls with a reminder but someone else answers the telephone?
If the patient is not at home, the ARS will ask if the person who answers the telephone can take a message for the patient. If yes is indicated, the appointment reminder is provided.
12. How many reminder attempts will the ARS make?
The ARS is currently configured to make up to three reminder attempts via telephone to confirm an appointment. The reminder attempts are made on the same evening within a short timeframe. If a voicemail or message manager answers on the first call, the ARS is configured to leave a message indicating the day, date, time, department, location of a scheduled appointment.
13. If I was booked for an appointment with short notice, will I receive a reminder?
No, if an appointment is booked with short notice, most often a reminder will not be made. The appointment information will need to be in the scheduling system a minimum of three to five days prior to the appointment for the ARS to make the reminder call.
14. I received an automated reminder, but it did not work properly, and I was not able to confirm my appointment. What should I do?
You should contact the number listed on the appointment letter or the booking department or referring physician’s office to confirm your appointment and to report the system error.
15. Will the ARS be used for all appointment areas?
This is being implemented in clinics and areas in the hospital where we have a higher rate of patients missing their appointments. These areas include diagnostic imaging and select outpatient clinics.
16. How can I opt out?
If you would prefer not to receive automated appointment reminders please contact the clinic/department you have your appointment with and they will remove your phone number from the calling list.