‘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 Homo sapiens life. We all forget one thing or another. It may happen that the patient did not show up because it slipped off from his mind.
To avoid this, the administration can deploy a reminder system, where the patients can be reminded of the appointment with a convenient communication system – e-mail, text message, or calls.
A quick, courteous call will not only remind them of the upcoming schedule but will also add credibility to your administrative behavior.
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.