What Can You Do About the No-Shows for Medical Appointments

If you run a busy medical practice, then patient no-shows are just a fact of life. When patients don’t show up for appointments, you lose revenue, waste time, and possibly drop the level of patient care. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are several ways to reduce your no-show rates and improve your business’s efficiency. Here is what you can do to accomplish this goal.

Track Your No-Shows

Too many medical offices have no idea what their no-show rate is. One physician’s practice found that four no-shows per day could lose a practice as much as $150,000 a year in revenue. Before you can address the problem, you need to define your particular issues.

Track your no-shows for 3 to 6 months to determine which patients, physicians, weekdays, and times have the most issues. Once you have this data, you should be able to spot some trends. Medscape took an in-depth look at the problem and determined several common reasons why people don’t show up for medical appointments. Among those:

  • Forgetting
  • Not feeling that their time is appreciated
  • Not feeling connected to doctors and staff
  • Personal conflicts that prevent attendance

There are several ways to address these problems and how a professional medical answering service can help.

Use Automated Appointment Reminders

There are several ways of sending out the reminders, and some offices opt for automation. Automated messages can be sent to patients via email, text, or phone. While this is certainly an option and will cut down on your no-show rates, it might not be the best choice. The American Medical Association (AMA) reported on a study that showed patients were more likely to show up for their appointments when a human being called them instead of being notified by a machine.

Make Appointment Reminder Calls

Making appointment reminder calls to each patient personally can cut your no-show rate from an average of over 23% to just over 10%. Making these calls in the office could burden your staff, and the professional medical answering service can take it off their shoulders.

Knowledgeable and courteous call operators can make appointment reminder calls to patients on your behalf, which will lower your no-show rate.

Avoid Overbooking Patients

The strategy of overbooking patients to account for no-shows quite often backfires. One of the primary reasons patients skip medical appointments is that medical practices don’t value their time and make them wait too long. If your practice overbooks, which causes patients to wait extended periods for care, they are more likely to not show up for their next appointment.

Have a Backup List of Patients

If your medical office is busy, it might be a good idea to develop a waiting list for patients willing to come in on the short notice. Not all no-shows are patients who forget to come in. Some give an hour’s cancellation notice, which could allow your office to fill that spot with someone on your backup list. Also, if you have several no-shows early in the day and are ahead of schedule, you may be able to fill a few spots in the afternoon to get you back on track.

Make Changing Appointments Easier

Another way to cut down on no-shows is to make it easier for patients to reschedule when needed. Sometimes physicians make follow-up appointments that could be months or even a year in advance. Most people don’t know their schedules that far ahead of time, so they might need to change it closer to the date. Medical answering services can schedule patient appointments 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The HIPAA-compliant systems ensure patient privacy and integrate with your database, so no further data entry is required.

Develop Strong Patient Relationships

Developing strong patient relationships not only ensures a higher level of patient care and better outcomes, but it will also reduce your no-show rate and could even lead to an increase in new patient referrals.

Have Your Customized No-Show Policy

Even when you implement these policies, your no-show rate will never be zero. Most medical offices have a no-show policy that is made clear to patients. Depending on your practice and where your no-show rate stands, it would be your decision on how to approach it. For example, you might want to schedule your repeat offenders at the end of the day so that you could close the office if they don’t show up. Some practices charge a no-show fee and eliminate it if the patient shows up for their next appointment. Other options include a small discount for showing up and possibly discharging a patient for a certain amount of no-shows in a year.

And the last but not the least

A patient no-show is a problem that presents a challenge to every medical practice. Taking a systematic approach to patient reminders and building strong patient relationships can help reduce these no-shows and increase your revenue. If you would like to find out how the medical answering service can lower your no-show rate,  Contact Answering365 at 888-588-9800 anytime. We will be happy to provide you with a free consultation.