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Ways to Reduce Patient No-Show Rates

Doctor walking patient

10 Ways to Drastically Reduce Patient No-Show Rates in 2019

Patient no-shows are a prevalent and on-going issue for any healthcare facility or medical practice.  No-show rates at outpatient facilities range between 23 and 34%. This causes a loss in expected daily revenue of 14%.

Lost revenue isn’t the only result of high patient no-show rates. Staff wastes time prepping for patients that never show up, and no-show patients can throw off the entire flow of the day’s appointments.

While it’s not possible to eliminate all no-shows, there are some effective ways to reduce the occurrences.

1. Develop Strong Relationships with Patients

Providers and facility staff members can solidify relationships with patients each time they come to the office. However, there are other ways to grow this relationship, too.

For example, consider sending holiday and birthday wishes. Another effective method is to create a patient newsletter to keep your patients engaged between visits.

When your patients feel like they are valued and that you are taking an individual interest in them, they are much less likely to be a no-show. If you want an easy way to track everything, use the best software.

RELATED: The Definitive Guide to No-Shows

2. Use Automated Reminders

Offering quick and professional reminders to patients about an upcoming appointment is a good idea. This reminder jogs their memory, and it’s a step that helps improve patient loyalty.

There are some patients who rely on these reminders. You can opt for automatic reminders that will save you time and money compared to a manual system.

Make sure the reminders are timed properly and that only two or three reminders are sent to each patient. More than this may be considered annoying, which can reduce patient satisfaction levels.

3. Schedule Patients as Soon as You Can When They Contact the Office

The further out an appointment is scheduled, the more likely a patient is to forget it. In fact, a study by Athenahealth indicates that for every day a patient waits for their appointment their no-show rate increases by 1%. Don’t double-book but try to work a new patient in as quickly as possible, especially those who have an urgent need. By doing this, you can develop patient loyalty while reducing the likelihood of no-shows.

If there are not appointments readily available, consider adding patients to a waitlist (more about this below). This will ensure they have a slot in the future, but that their appointment will be moved up if possible. This can also help to increase patient loyalty, as the patient sees you are taking steps to help their situation.

The best part is, quality schedule management software makes this easy. Making this a part of your workflow is a good idea.

4. Reward Your Patients Who Keep Their Appointments

If a patient is a no-show, you can attach a small fee to their bill that remains until they set up another appointment and keep it. If a patient keeps the appointment and arrives on time, you can give them a discount on their bill. You can even collect all the names of patients who show up on time and host a drawing for a gift card each month.

At a minimum, you should actively remember to acknowledging a patient for doing the right thing and keeping their appointment. This will help to build patient loyalty and show patients that their cooperation and time are appreciated.

5. Follow Up with Missed Appointments Using a “Sorry We Missed You” Message

There are some situations when a patient doesn’t mean to be a no-show. They forget about an appointment or they double booked themselves and didn’t have time to cancel.

In this situation, let the patient know you are “sorry you missed them.” In this same message, you can encourage the patient to contact you to reschedule right away. You can also send a reminder of your office’s missed appointment policy.

6. Give Patients Printed Copies of Appointment Times

Even if you see a patient put a note about their future appointment in a calendar or on their phone, be sure you still give them an appointment card. It’s a good idea to offer printed appointment cards, so there’s no room for confusion about the date and time of the appointment.

Some offices even use low-cost magnets with the practice information printed on them to give to patients. This is a great way for patients to keep appointment information in an easy-to-remember and see location.

7. Create and Update a Waiting List

It’s a good idea to create a waitlist of people who would like an appointment so you can fill in any gaps that may arise during the day. An effective waitlist is a simple way of reducing the time patients have to wait to see their provider and can sometimes shave days or even weeks off the patient wait. This is especially valuable for patients that may have more urgent needs.

Be sure to ask these individuals on the waiting list about the times, the days they are available and if they are close enough to the practice to take a short-notice appointment. If there happens to be a no-show, you can fill in the slots on your waiting list, which benefits everyone.

8. Keep Office Wait Times to a Minimum

People are extremely busy today. Getting a patient to wait 20 to 40 minutes for their appointment is going to result in them being a no-show to future appointments. Long waits in the office lead to lower patient satisfaction scores.

If a patient doesn’t feel as though you value their time, they probably will not value yours. This is how no-shows wind up becoming lost patients.

9. Create Restrictions for Chronic No-Shows

If your office has some people who you consider a chronic no-show patient, consider restricting appointment scheduling. With these individuals, only provide appointment options that are the same-day or one-day ahead. This can help reduce the likelihood they will forget, minimizing no-shows.

10. Avoid Creating a Blanket Policy for No-Shows

It may be tempting to create a blanket no-show policy for everyone, but this isn’t always the best course of action. Usually, it’s only a single segment of patients who consistently miss their appointments.

Rather than punishing everyone, have a policy in place that helps to address these no-show individuals. You can even double-book their appointment slot to ensure you don’t suffer a financial loss if they don’t show up.

Reducing Patient No-Show Rates Is Possible

In short, it is possible to reduce patient no-show rates, regardless of the type of healthcare organization you’re in. Sometimes it takes a little creativity and effort to go the extra mile, but at the end of the day reduced no-shows have a direct impact on the bottom-line. Take some time to explore the options here and choose a few or try them all. The best method to reduce these no-show rates is by taking a proactive approach to ensuring your patients show up.

If you are looking for more information about how to make your practice more efficient and to reduce no-show rates, schedule a demo of QueueDr today.