The Billion Dollar Cost of Cancellations and Patient No-Shows
Picture this: according to the National Institutes of Health, patient no-shows cost medical offices over $150 billion per year. That means that more and more potential patients are canceling their appointments every single day!
Need to cut down on no-shows?
For a health system to thrive, finding strategies to reduce cancelled appointments and patient no-shows will be the difference between success and failure.
Why Aren’t Patients Aren’t Showing Up?
Are you asking yourself, “why aren’t patients showing up to their appointments?” You’re not alone. Here’s a secret: the difference between potential and actual patients has everything to do with how you manage your schedule.
Yes, you read that right. Surprisingly, medical office scheduling software is the key to success for the healthcare industry. Without it, providers are given a headache-and-a-half when their no-show rates continue to climb.
Allow us to explain. Patient no-shows include people that cancel appointments within 24-hours of their appointment or completely miss them. Although missed appointments are super common, they don’t have to be the standard at your doctor’s office. Not sure what we mean?
On top of that, other patients may be discouraged from showing up due to extremely long waiting times. It’s not uncommon for it to take weeks to get into the doctor’s office in the first place.
Here’s the catch. When it comes to people living with serious illnesses, there’s not a lot of time to waste waiting for an appointment. But wait – there’s more. Other reasons that patients are skipping their doctor’s visits include:
- Lack of knowledge about their own medical conditions
- Serious communication barriers for non-English speakers
- Social anxiety and so-called “white coat syndrome”
- Issues with scheduling logistics
For the rest of your patients, not showing up to their appointments might just come down to plain old forgetfulness. A good amount of people wouldn’t miss their meetings if they had only been reminded!
No Automation Scheduling = No-Shows
News flash: no automation scheduling equals more patient no-shows. Not only that, but missed doctor appointments impact people on your medical office’s waitlist, too. That’s because they could have easily filled in the blanks if you have an effective appointment scheduling and waiting list system in place.
The point is that patient no-shows are generally frustrating for everyone. To prevent no-shows, let’s take a look at the doctor’s perspective for a second. In a nutshell, missing an appointment is like missing an hour out of their already jam-packed schedule.
Plus, some medical professionals like surgeons lose tons of money every time that an appointment is cancelled. Of course, this issue goes way beyond the surgical table, affecting different wards and departments as well.
Whatever healthcare sector you work in, patient no-shows burn a hole in your pocket regardless. So, what should you do? It’s a no-brainer: set up a solid appointment reminder service.
Autonomous Patient Access Solutions Improve No-Show Rates
Here’s the thing. Autonomous patient access solutions actually improves no-show rates. In fact, using automation software can benefit your healthcare office by increasing:
- Your staff’s efficiency
- The allocation of resources
- Convenience for patients
First of all, implementing an appointment reminder service can boost your staff’s efficiency. Admit it – booking individual appointments and rescheduling takes an average of 45 minutes per appointment. But nowadays, using an autonomous patient access solution can free up some of your staff’s time so that they can focus on making patients feel more comfortable.
Plus, implementing autonomous patient access solutions can help you keep better track of incoming patients, too.
Soon, you’ll see how much smoother your clinic will be running when your staff has more time to work on what really matters – increasing your patient’s quality of life. On top of that, sending out appointment reminders makes things more convenient for patients.
How does all this result in fewer patient no-shows? We’re glad that you asked. With automated appointment reminders, sending out simple texts or emails will translate to less missed appointments in no time. Plus, early access solutions allow you to offer patients earlier appointments, which in turn reduces their likelihood of no-showing.
This is a bonus for your patients as well, who are more likely to receive the care they need. And we’re sure that your front desk staff won’t mind spending a little less time on tedious tasks either.
How to Reduce Patient No-Shows
Curious about how to reduce patient no-shows? We’ve got you covered. First of all, you can start by improving your patient’s access to your schedule management systems.
For health systems not ready to invest in patient access solutions it might be worth giving something like open access scheduling a try. What is this, you ask? It’s simple: an easier way to cut down on patient no-shows by leaving a portion of the day open for new patient appointments.
Here’s another word of advice – this might sound harsh, but it’s time to ditch so-called “bad” patients. To put it more clearly, a bad patient is one that fails to show up for at least four different appointments. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with putting these patients on a list of recommendations for other clinics.
What about patient cancellations? Surprisingly, this can actually be seen as a blessing in disguise. That’s because asking patients who can’t make their appointment to cancel can open up more slots for patients that really need to be seen.
Naturally, it’s essential to build solid relationships with your healthcare patients as well. To do so, you can easily establish procedures and processes that allow your staff members to connect with the patient on a more personal level. For example, it’s super important to get to know your patients on a first-name basis.
So, make sure that your staff at the front desk remembers to print out their patient schedule for their office to use as a guide throughout the day. That way, they’ll have no trouble welcoming patients by their names when they come in. Be sure to have your staff say “thank you” to patients as they leave, too. Sometimes it is the smallest things that can contribute to your overall patient satisfaction.
Why Charging For No-Shows is a No-No
Want to know why charging for no-shows is a huge no-no? Let us enlighten you. Basically, it appears that charging for no-shows could end up in even more patients missing out on their appointments.
For this reason, it’s a big turn off to customers if you threaten to charge them for a no-show, let alone actually do it. Despite this fact, there’s no shame in creating a rule that restricts serial no-showers from continuing to make appointments at your office.
What we’re really trying to say is that charging for no-show patients might make you lose more money than you would’ve if you just let them miss their appointment. And when a customer doesn’t feel comfortable with their healthcare practitioner, they’re much more likely to switch to a friendlier office.
Besides, no one wants to go to a doctor’s office who charged them for a broken-down vehicle or an intense traffic commute. Don’t want your “no-shows” to turn into “never agains?” The answer is clear: make sure that you look at your numbers and take action to avoid more no-shows in the future.
If you’re sick and tired of dealing with missed appointments, then you’ve got to figure out what your no-show rate is to reduce it. That way you’ll be able to see the bigger picture of how missed amounts hurt your medical clinic’s pocket!
Want to Prevent Patient No-Shows?
Frustrated with losing money over missed appointments? In the long run, sending out appointment reminders and offering earlier appointments when available is a simple but effective way to improve your customer satisfaction levels. Not to mention that getting reminder texts is way more helpful than nothing at all.
RELATED: The Definitive Guide to No-Shows
Bottom line: do yourself a favor and get autonomous patient access software to handle everything from appointment reminders to automating your waiting list.Not sure how to get patients off the schedule and into the office? Contact us for a demo.