Appointment Reminders Can Reduce Patient Waiting Times

Wait times can impact the patient experience and business success. Reducing wait times can benefit your practice by reducing no-shows, improving patient retention, and crafting a more positive connection with your patients. Here, you can discover the impact of patient wait times and how you can leverage a data management reminder solution to improve your scheduling practices and boost patient outcomes.

Why Do Wait Times Matter?

Wait times can be an indicator of a busy business, but patients often don’t appreciate excessive waiting, especially when they need healthcare services. Without the proper management systems, it can be easy to experience minor issues that perpetrate wait time problems. This is why patient engagement in healthcare is crucial for accelerating wait times. For example, having too many people in the waiting room can lead to accidentally skipping over a patient who has already been waiting for a while. Wait times have other adverse outcomes, such as causing:

  • Low satisfaction: There are strong correlations between provider ratings and wait times. The less time patients spend waiting, the higher the satisfaction score (Lagasse). Whether the wait times are due to disorganization, understaffing, or another cause, patients do not enjoy spending more time than they need to in provider offices.
  • Perceived poor care: Regardless of the reason for increased wait times, patients may internalize them as a result of a lack of care from the provider. Many patients associate wait times with a provider’s value of the patient’s visit (Chu). Patients often think of wait times as part of the “service package,” amplifying that the longer a patient waits, the more negatively their outlook on the service and care will be.
  • Financial losses: An efficient patient flow can enhance cash flow and bring financial stability. Alternatively, long wait times can translate to potential financial losses. Some patients may leave the office before receiving care as a result of long wait times, causing the facility to lose money on that patient’s visit. For some patients, this problem could prompt them to find another provider or, in some critical cases, seek a hospital or emergency room to provide necessary care.
  • Poor patient outcomes: Although some appointments may be routine, other patients may need more urgent care whether they’re aware of an issue or not. If a patient leaves a practice due to long wait times and needs to reschedule their appointment for a later date, they could experience health concerns from not receiving the care they need. This could be especially problematic for practices with waiting lists that cannot welcome patients on short notice.

Using Data Management Reminder Systems

Data management reminder systems can ease administrative workloads and improve patient wait times. These systems work through various platforms, including text messages, email, and phone calls. This automated process can remind patients of upcoming appointments and eliminate the need for providers or assistants to personally reach out to patients, allowing for streamlined processes in the office. Benefits of a reliable management reminder solution include:

Benefits of a reliable management reminder solution include: Reducing no-shows, boosting scheduling, identifying appointment-free times, increasing patient satisfaction

  • Reducing no-shows: You can reduce no-shows by creating a more efficient process for patients. These systems send confirmations of booked appointments and reminders for appointments, so patients have all the information they need to show up on time. This solution can also make it easy to discuss rescheduling with patients as a result of poor weather or other unforeseen events that could otherwise prompt them to no-show.
  • Boosting scheduling: Scheduling features can empower patients to book appointments online through links on your website, in emails, or on social media pages. You can also enable notifications to remind patients when they’re due for another appointment to maximize engagement. For patients who miss an appointment or need to reschedule for a later date, rescheduling features make it easy to book the patient at an appropriate time so they don’t spend weeks without the care they need.
  • Identifying appointment-free times: Recognizing appointment-free times can be beneficial for patients and providers. Providers can use features to identify patients who need an appointment and automatically fill them into those time slots for efficiency. This reduces the need for manual tasks to connect with patients and prevents overbooking or booking multiple patients for the same time slot.
  • Increasing patient satisfaction: Overall, the benefits of management reminder systems can improve patient satisfaction. Features like chat conversations, automated surveys, and mass messages can create clearer lines of communication and help you better understand patient needs. These insights let you respond appropriately, highlighting your care and effort.

Other Methods to Reduce No-Shows and Wait Times

Some practices may find it beneficial to implement multiple methods to prevent no-shows and reduce wait times. Evaluating your current practices is the best way to determine whether these strategies can aid in your achieving your institutional goals. Common focuses include incentivizing patients to show up, improving communication, and avoiding taking too many patients at once.

Incentivizing patients to show up could mean providing gift certificates for special services, offering a weekly drawing, or suggesting a similar type of reward that encourages patients to make their appointments. These little gifts can go a long way toward improving patient satisfaction and building a stronger connection with your patients.

Improving communication is another crucial aspect of reducing wait times. Communicating how long waits will be, explaining why there is a delay in service, or expressing an apology for making patients wait can make them feel more positively toward your practice. This type of communication can occur before or after an appointment. For example, a provider could reach out to a patient if they need to push an appointment back by half an hour. This way, the patient knows they will need to wait another 30 minutes and can spend that time productively rather than in the waiting room. Alternatively, the patient could reschedule their appointment for a later date without being frustrated by waiting only to not receive their services.

Avoiding taking too many patients can prevent a number of problems from occurring. Learning the appropriate number of patients for your practice size and number of providers can prevent double-booking or overbooking on busy days. Although you want an efficient patient flow, it’s essential to be able to provide quality care to each patient without sacrificing their time or happiness.

Healthcare Scheduling Best Practices

Best practices begin by monitoring your current operations and detecting where you can improve. Your findings should indicate where you have operational inefficiencies, guiding you to find the right solution for your practice. Consider factors like how many patients show up for appointments, how long a provider needs to perform basic or routine services, what services patients most commonly book, and how long the scheduling process takes. You can then make informed changes using this information to ensure efficiency and monitor progress.

Communication will be essential at this time. Discussing pain points with your faculty and patients can help you quickly identify the most concerning problem areas. Strong communication can further strengthen your connections and show your team how much you care.

Engage with Patients with Rectangle Health

Engage with patients with Rectangle Health

Rectangle Health is 100% focused on providing innovative solutions to those in the healthcare industry. With more than 30 years of experience, we feel confident that we can empower your practice through optimized and automated processes.

Our patient engagement solution makes it easy to reduce wait times and improve patient outcomes. Request a demo of our solutions to see how we can impact your organization.



Chu, Holly, Westbrook, Robert A., Nijue-Marendes, Sarah, Giordana, Thomas P., Dang, Bich N. (2019, July 8.) The Psychology of the Wait Time Experience- What Clinics Can do to Manage the Waiting Experience for Patients. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from

Lagasse Jeff. (2017, March 17). Patient Wait Times Show Notable Impact on Satisfaction Scores, Vitals Study Shows. Healthcare Finance. Retrieved from

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