3 ways practices tackle patient no-shows

Doctor time

Doctors are trying to find some new solutions to the age-old problem of patients who don’t show up for appointments.

When patients don’t keep appointments it can be costly for physician practices in terms of time and money, according to a Medscape report. No-show patients could cost practices billions in revenue nationwide, according to one recent report. Here’s some strategies practices use to help ensure patients show up for scheduled appointments:

  • Charge patients a fee for missed appointments. This remains a controversial strategy for some practices. It gets patients’ attention, but many practices worry it drives a wedge between patients and their doctors. Nonetheless, some physicians say it is justified. "We have a strict and enforced cancellation and no-show policy," a general practitioner told Medscape. "Patients are made well aware of this on day one. Repeat offenders are terminated from the practice." 
  • Text patients appointment reminders. Texting makes it easy for a patient to cancel an appointment, said David Kaelber, M.D., medical informatics officer at MetroHealth, an integrated public health system in Cleveland, Ohio. Texting has helped some practices reduce their no-show rate by 10 to 20 percent, according to the article.
  • Use online scheduling. Keep in mind that the longer the time between when a patient books an appointment and when it takes place, the more likely the person will cancel or not show up. With online scheduling, a patient can book his or her own appointment. Software can also pinpoint patients’ history so that if they are frequently a no-show, a practice can double-book that time slot on the schedule.