3 ways to reduce no-shows at your practice

By Aine Cryts

No-show patients could be costing your practice as much as $50,000 a year, according to a recent Physicians Practice slideshow. But there's more than money at stake: When patients don't call to cancel appointments, providers can't offer those slots to the patients who need them.

Charging no-show fees doesn't often work because the fees are difficult to collect from patients. Doing so also may cause patients to write negative reviews about a practice on social media or even leave to find another doctor, according to the presentation.

Here are three strategies to undertake to ensure no-shows don't tank your practice financially:

  • Set expectations with new patients. Tell new patients that you expect them to follow the care plans set by clinicians--that includes showing up for appointments. Inform patients that sometimes visits take longer than expected. Also advise patients that they should cancel their appointments if they can't show up at the scheduled time, and explain that cancelling in advance will enable your practice to open the appointment slot for another patient, according to the Physicians Practice slideshow.
  • Overbooking can be a part of the solution. Figure out which days and times each week result in the highest number of no-show patients--then overbook appointments during those days and times, according to the presentation. Still, keep in mind that overbooking can lead to physician burnout and stress--and it can also result in unhappy patients in your waiting room.
  • Appointment reminders can help. Confirming appointments with patients 48 hours in advance allows your practice to fill the canceled slots with same-day or next-day appointments for patients with urgent needs, as FiercePracticeManagement has reported.

In addition, when using automated phone messages, lead with the appointment time. The example cited by Physician Practice: "Mrs. Brown, we're calling to confirm that you will arrive at 9:40 a.m. for your appointment with Dr. Jones on (date) at (location). Please bring your insurance card and ID."

To learn more:
- check out the slideshow