Robocalls & Phone Scams: Why Voice-Only Appointment Reminders Will Fail You


If your organization is finding it increasingly difficult to reach patients—or really anyone for that matter—by phone, you’re not alone. There are many reasons people are choosing to ignore their phone calls, but perhaps the most prevalent reason is because they don’t trust that it’s you, thanks to the sharp growth of robocalls and phone scams.

Comedian John Oliver even weighed in on the robocall crisis last week. Disclaimer: if you’ve never watched John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight, let us warn you that his humor isn’t workplace appropriate. Still, he shared some interesting statistics on the blatant increase in robocalls and phone scams:

  • Robocalls increased 57% in 2018, this equals 47.8 billion robocalls last year
  • Robocalls account for 60% of all complaints to the FCC
  • Half of all phone calls are expected to be scams this year

Half—fifty percent—that’s how many phone calls are expected to be scams this year. No wonder we can’t get anyone to pick up the line.

Oliver went on to explain that the technology needed to scam and robocall consumers is cheap and widely available, it took the show’s technician only 15 minutes to figure it out. The technology is also improving so recordings continue to sound more authentic.

The point is this: because your patients are picking up their phones less, everything from appointment reminders to surveys to lab results delivered over the phone will become more difficult and less effective. Difficult and less effective also equals more expensive.

You need text and email as part of your patient engagement strategy.

Text and email make it easy to identify your organization and your purpose, educate patients, and elicit a response. It’s cheaper too. And while scammers are known for utilizing text and email, the response rates for these two modalities far outweigh that of phone calls and voicemails. In fact, text messaging remains the most responsive way to interact with a patient or consumer, eliciting a 99% response rate.

One of our customers explained the difference text and email made for his organization, “The ROI on the appointment reminders was immediate.  Before Relatient, we relied on reminder calls that were not always made.  We also didn’t reach a lot of folks during the day. [With Relatient], we saw reductions in cancellations – particularly those the day before an appointment and same-day cancellations – in addition to a drop in no-shows.

If you’ve made investments in patient engagement but have yet to yield the results you’re looking for or your organization continues to struggle with manual appointment reminders, scheduling, surveys, collections, or recalls, we have two recommendations:

  1. Make sure your patient engagement solution utilizes best practices and incorporates integrated text and email into your patient engagement strategy. If your current patient engagement process and/or vendor can’t or doesn’t do this, it’s time to find someone new. Relatient can help.
  2. If your current patient engagement solution does offer best practice solutions, including text and email, double check to ensure those modalities are being utilized. If at some point a decision was made not to utilize text and email, you’ll see a quick and dramatic increase in your ROI when you turn those modalities on.

Make text, email and voice an integral part of your patient engagement.