Case Study

Orthopaedic practice looks to continually improve office communications to patients

Orthopaedic Associates of Rochester

Orthopaedic Associates of Rochester (OAR) is a busy practice committed to providing quality care to the Rochester, New York, community. OAR comprises six physicians and three physicians' assistants who operate out of Park Ridge and Rochester General Hospitals and area surgery centers.

This commitment to quality includes finding ways to improve office functions while keeping costs low. When results and benefits from new products and services can be measured, both staff and management are easily convinced to give them a try. For example, the national no-show rate for medical practices is approximately 16%, so a change that improves this rate by even a single percent can have a profound effect on busy practices such as OAR.

"We felt that we were doing a good job since our no show rate was about 9%," said Jane Dodds, OAR's office manager. "However, we were open to considering that maybe we could do more." OAR was fortunate that their practice management system, Medent, had a solid reporting system that enabled them to measure their no-show rate on a weekly basis.

OAR's goal was to do a before-and-after analysis. Talksoft made that easy, offering a free one-week trial without any start-up fees. Talksoft's implementation was done within a week and took about an hour of office time. This impressed OAR.

Even the most conscientious of employees don't always get around to making all reminder calls each and every day, especially when lines are busy or there is no answer. With Talksoft, practices can tailor this to their needs. For example, the system can call patients two days prior to the appointment -- three times per day might be enough to reach most, but then the system goes a step further and retries those failed calls three more times on the day before the appointment. For the budget-minded, remember that Talksoft charges only for completed calls, not for attempted calls.

These were a few of the reasons OAR gave Talksoft a try and began measuring the system's effect on the no-show rate. "We measured the no-show rate week by week and then started averaging it out over time," said Jane, "and we were happy to see just what we were hoping to see within the first week." OAR's no-show rate fell from 9.4% to 5.6%, almost a 60% reduction. If you factor in what an office visit brings to a practice like OAR and multiply it by the percent improvement over 1000s of visits each month, it becomes clear that Talksoft has a very favorable impact on practice revenues.

"For us, the simple act of making a reminder call to someone who schedules a follow-up appointment far into the future has a significant positive effect because, like most people, patients forget," said Jane.

Another unanticipated benefit is that Talksoft's system does not utilize the practice's existing phone lines - the calls originate from one of two Talksoft data centers. And because even well-run practices can lose power, have phone line issues, or experience weather emergencies, this added reliability means that those calls always will be made on schedule.

Overall, OAR experienced both measurable and intangible benefits. The measurable benefits make it easy to justify engaging the service, while the intangible benefits are often what really elevate the practice in the eyes of patients.

"And the fact that Talksoft was so fast and easy to implement was the icing on the cake," said Jane.