How to reduce patient no shows?

‘I’m sorry! I can’t come today.’

If six words horror story had a face, it would have this written all over. From tinder dates to doctor’s appointments, none of us like to get stood up.

However, there still stands a difference – getting stood up by a date may just cost us our time, but for a doctor, it means both time and money. Studies show that patient no shows can cost a physician up to $150000 p.a.

From front desk staff to accounting personnel, the patient no shows bothers everyone. Moreover, it brings small pain points, such as – real-time adjustments in the current list, empty slots for the day, and lost revenue.

To overcome this, you need to have a no show policy in place. Let’s look into all the other solutions to reduce Patient no shows.

1. Automated Reminders

Forgetting things is an inevitable part of human life. We all forget things multiple times a day. Sometimes, patients don’t show up because the appointment simply slipped their minds.

To avoid this, your healthcare office could benefit from an online SMS gateway that sends automated appointment reminders.

A quick, courteous reminder text will not only remind patients of their upcoming appointments, but it will also keep them happy with the service you provide.

2. The Multiple Reminder Method

It happens with all of us that our primary numbers are often busy; it can happen with the patient too! So it’s ideal to ask for a secondary mode of communication.

It can be anything – their spouse’s no., landline no., or their e-mail details. Amidst this, don’t miss out asking the patient which mode of communication they’re comfortable with.

Taking a patient’s consent is also a legal requirement enforced by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

3. Follow up Courtesy

If, even after the reminders, the patients miss out on the appointment, let’s not jump on the conclusions that the patient is not going to show up.

You can pass a concise message stating that you missed them today and can help them in rescheduling their appointment.

Multiple studies in the area of patient no shows suggest that only 10% of them are chronic appointment cancellers, i.e., they have a past of not showing up to multiple doctor appointments.

Thus you need to devise a plan just for this 10%.

For the rest, your organization can even draft a no show policy that can layout the guidelines for the process. It will come in handy while you send them a follow-up text/e-mails.

4. Incentivize Pre-Paid Appointments

We all look forward to incentives. Whether it’s a cash incentive or a discount on the next appointment. The healthcare organization can extend discount offers to their existing patients for the next scheduled visit.

This would not only increase the number of future appointments but will also negate the chances of them not showing up.

In addition to this, they can also club discount plans for multiple visits and offer them on a discounted price to your patients (who need it).

5. Minimize the Waiting Period

Waiting time of 10-15 minutes is considerable under emergency circumstances, but 20-40 minutes can enhance the likelihood of patients opting out from future appointments.

As rightly said, time is money. Only if you respect a patient’s time are they likely to value yours as well (which will eventually lower the count of patient no-shows)

6. Thanks, those who are Punctual

Apart from all the shenanigans, let’s not miss out on those who valued our time and showed up for the scheduled appointments.

A bubbly cheerful smile saying thank you can do wonders to your loyal patient’s list. It bridges the void of unfamiliarity and builds up the strong foundation of long extended loyalty to a health care organization

7. Document It

Documentation is the easiest way to keep a tab of things. We might have progressed digitally and technologically, but when needed, we can always go back to our good old documents to find details of our appointments, ailment, etc.

You can be as creative as you want for the documentation procedure, from paper magnets to small cards or an elegant folder with necessary papers in it – anything and everything will work. Also, don’t forget to ask the patient in an easy-to-remember place.

8. Let’s Reward those who made it on time

Punctuality is one of the greatest virtue possessed by humankind; let’s acknowledge and appreciate it.

Whenever a patient does not show up, it costs time and money to the organization, whereas a punctual patient justifies his appointment and also is of great value to the organization.

Don’t miss out on making them feel special. A congratulatory mail, thank you a message, or a monthly lucky draw – anything will work perfectly fine. Just let them know that you value them.

Whereas for the no show patients, the organization can consider charging a minimal amount as a penalty fee whenever they schedule their appointments again in the future.

9. Dynamic Scheduling

One other attribute of cutting down the risk of no shows is – dynamic booking. Whenever a patient misses out an appointment, don’t go after double-checking on them, you can adjust new patients in the order of priority.

You can always follow up later ‘the no show patient’ with a text or a mail (as discussed above), but don’t miss out on bonding with a new patient who will recognize your efforts of last-minute urgent booking.

10. Commitment is the Key

Last but not least, the key to the health industry service is always -Being committed to your Patient’s Well-Being.  A simple gesture of birthday wish or an e-mailer with health tips can make their day.

They may be your patients, but when you reach out to them in a personalized way, they feel valued and are likely to show more allegiance to your health support system.

All the points mentioned above are documented based on analyzing various trends in a span of considerable time. They might not eradicate the problem but will surely bring down the number of no shows patient.

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