One of the most important aspects of running a great practice is efficiency in patient scheduling. It has an impact on so much, from your time and resources to your revenue and bottom line. And the biggest bane to patient scheduling is no-shows. You can’t entirely eliminate patient no-shows, but you can certainly make a dent in them. Wondering how to reduce patient no-shows? The search ends here.
Strategies For How To Reduce Patient No-Shows
Use A Reminder System
Simply tackling how to reduce no-shows won’t be enough unless you’re willing to go beyond just the numbers. Part of this is nipping the problem at the bud with a reminder system that does its job. Using an efficient reminder system is as much a part of effective patient scheduling as it is of reducing no-shows. Plus, you must turn to technology for this instead of having someone glued to a phone all day. Delegating reminders to a software or app ensures you and your staff have the time for more important tasks. Plus, it eliminates human error.
There are several options available for you to choose from, from AI-enabled software to apps you can use on your mobile phones. Opt for an omnichannel reminder system that will send an email a few days before the appointment, and a text message on the day of the appointment itself. Or, use an app that can send out timely reminder notifications to your patient’s phones. Whatever you pick, ensure that you set a proper reminder message and time.
Tracking Patient No-Shows
In order to fully understand your patients, you need to keep track of their behavior as well as your KPIs (key performance indicators). Tracking your KPIs will give you tangible data that you can use to help your patients and improve your practice. These can include the time it takes to book a patient, the demographics of the patients that keep missing appointments, the number of no-shows over a period of time, etc.
Tracking this sort of information gives you insights you can use to your advantage. You’re sure to discover demographic and logistical trends that can help you predict your patient no-shows. For instance, if you find a lot of patients between the ages of 20 and 40 missing appointments, you may need to remind them via text instead of via email. You may also be able to predict no-shows around the festive season or in the monsoon and plan things accordingly.
Draft And Enforce A Patient No-Show Policy
In some cases, patients can’t avoid missing their appointment. Unexpected emergencies can come up, transportation can be a problem, and sometimes, they could just forget. However, this becomes problematic when patients keep missing appointments because of their carelessness. There may not be much of a loss to them, but they deny other patients the chance to receive treatment. Plus, they deprive you of your revenue.
If you find yourself thinking of how to reduce patient no-shows all the time, you need a patient no-show policy. It is important to communicate this policy to your patients and make them all aware of it. If you haven’t yet, create a website for your practice and ensure the policy can be seen to all on it. This sets the foundation of expectations between you and your patients, and you retain the power of how strictly you want to enforce it. It helps you hold patients accountable while ensuring that your time and the time of your other patients are respected.
You could give patients the chance to cancel an appointment at least 24 hours before the time slot, or allow for one missed appointment with no charges or penalties. You can then charge repeat offenses with a fee that increases marginally with every missed appointment. This could be nominal or could be the full cost of the appointment.
Charging them is a mechanism that reminds them of their accountability. Of course, it comes down to you as to when you need to charge a patient for a missed appointment. More than being strict, you need to be understanding. Make exceptions in the case of sickness or emergencies, and encourage your patients to be more mindful.
Provide Incentive To Patients To Show Up
If you have a penalty for missing an appointment, it’s only fair that you also have a reward system for patients who regularly show up on time! More than seeming childish, this is a great way to recognize and build patient loyalty. This can be one of the best ways to reduce the number of missed appointments, since it ultimately develops a stronger relationship between you and your patients, encouraging them to come back to you.
You don’t have to have some exorbitant policy in place as a reward system. Keep it simple, like a thank you card or a gift certificate. Whatever you opt for, remember that this is also instilling a human element to your practice, which can work wonders in the long run.
Additionally, you can have patients prepay a certain part of their total cost when they book an appointment. This increases their incentive to remember and show up for the appointment. You could also offer discounts to patients who opt to prepay.
There are a few things you can do with respect to patient scheduling to reduce the number of no-shows to your practice. One of them is letting patients book their own appointments. When patients get the convenience of booking appointments themselves, they become active participants in the process. They get to pick a day and time convenient for them, automatically reducing the chances of them not showing up.
This makes them feel in control of their medical scheduling and gives out the message that you also respect their time. If something comes up and they need to cancel, this could make them phone in advance to let you know about the cancelation. An easy way to better patient scheduling is using an app that ticks off multiple boxes at once. One of these is the ImmunifyMe app, a great app for doctors designed to cater to both, patients and pediatricians. The app not only lets you plan your slots for the week for patients to schedule their appointments but also sends out timely appointment reminders.
Reach Out To No-Shows To Reschedule
This again is a part of building a relationship with your patients, and thus reducing no-shows. A good rule of thumb to follow is to reach out to patients who have missed an appointment without waiting on them to call you and reschedule. You could send an email, a text, or a phone call. Whatever you prefer, word your message along the lines of care and concern for your patient. Here’s an easy sample to use:
“Hi -Patient-, we’re sorry to see you missed your appointment with us at -timeslot- today. We hope everything is okay, and we want to make sure you can get right back on schedule as soon as possible.”
Keep your tone non-accusatory, so they’re not guilty about missing it. Ensure you communicate concern and efficiency, and do actually follow back on rescheduling them. This establishes a personal connection with your patients, showing them how much you truly care for their health.
How to reduce patient no-shows is ultimately a combination of some or all of the above points. Even then, you won’t be able to completely eliminate this problem, but you’ll certainly be able to reduce its impact. There’s a lot that goes into running a successful practice and patient scheduling is certainly a big part of it. So, make sure you work your way to getting this right.
FAQs On How To Reduce Patient No-Shows
How Do You Deal With No-Show Clients?
It’s important for you to track your KPIs to first get accurate insights into your no-show data. Once this is done you can begin to work towards it. Ensure you set up an efficient reminder system, and enforce a patient no-show policy to discourage patients from being too forgetful or careless.
How Do You Minimize Cancelations?
First, ensure that the cancelations are not due to inefficiency on your part e.g. shifting around appointments, too much time spent in the waiting room, etc. Secondly, enforce a policy that allows patients to cancel with no penalty fee for 24 hours prior to the appointment, after which you charge them a cancelation fee. This will discourage unnecessary cancelations.
What Are Some Ways To Increase Appointment Show Rates?
One way to increase appointment show rates is to penalize cancelations. This can be if the patient cancels within 24 hours of the appointment, or has multiple missed appointments in their record. Plus, you can incentivize your patients to show up by making them prepay for their appointment when they book with you.