Patient no-show is a recurring problem for any medical practice or healthcare facility. As per the recent study, no-show rates in an outpatient setting can range between 22 percent and 35 percent, resulting in a loss of 15 percent of anticipated daily revenue. In terms of dollars, patient no-show can cost individual physicians as much as $150,000 per year. Such figures make it obvious that missed appointments are the cause of revenue loss as well as a source of frustration.
While not every no-show can be eliminated, there are effective ways to reduce the number of no-shows in your practice. While reducing patient no-show, there are certain things you don’t want to do. If you adopt the wrong practice to reduce patient no-show then it might end up in damaging relationships with your patients.
- Create a triage chart:
The chart should rate your top 20 symptoms by a series of criteria. The criteria should include the symptom, appointment urgency and appointment length. Maintain a list of patients who want to be seen sooner and call them to ‘fill-in’ or ‘compress’ the schedule.
- Consider patient’s convenience:
While booking an appointment, start by asking patients when they would like to come in, rather than assigning them the first available slot.
- Don’t overbook appointments:
Long office wait times were viewed by patients as a sign of disrespect that led to patient no-shows. With as busy as people are these days, asking a patient to wait 20 to 40 minutes or more for an appointment will increase the likelihood of them opting out of future appointments. If patients don’t feel you value their time, they are less likely to value yours. This is how a no-show turns into a lost patient.
- Use Automated Reminders:
Providing a quick and courteous reminder to patients about their upcoming appointment not only serves to jog their memory but is also a thoughtful step that improves patient loyalty. When patients initially schedule appointments, ask them which method or methods of contact they prefer. Many patients rely on reminders from their providers because of the convenience they provide, and automated reminders can save both time and money over the manual system you may be using.
- Allow Pre-Paid Appointments:
Provide a discount or points for patients to show by allowing them to prepay for their appointment. When patients know they’ve already committed the money to an appointment, their incentive to show is enhanced. You can even offer a discount to patients who prepay for their next visit.
- Reward Patients Who Keep Appointments:
When a patient no-shows, you can place a small fee on their bill that remains until they schedule and keep the new appointment. For patients who keep their appointments and arrive on time, you can reward them with a small discount on their bill. You can also enter the names of your on-time arrivals into a drawing for a gift card each month.
- Ask reasons for no-show:
When following up, ask patients why the missed their appointments, then document the reasons. This allows you to spot general trends in no-shows that could possibly be fixed.
- Develop Strong Patient Relationships:
When patients feel valued, when they feel that you take an interest in them individually, they are considerably less likely to become a no-show. You can nurture patient relationship by small things like sending birthday and holiday wishes or simply appreciating them for visiting as per appointment date. You can also use a patient newsletter to keep patients current on events in your office as well as offer healthcare tips they can use immediately.