No-shows are an occasional part of the healthcare industry, but no practice enjoys them. No-shows cause a loss of revenue and leave open a space that other patients could have used.
However, patients who do not show up for appointments often have good reasons for it, and healthcare providers should try to discover what they are. By evaluating the common reasons for no-shows, it could be possible to reduce them using the following strategies.
Set Up Automatic Reminders
Automated systems can help eliminate a lot of the guesswork from appointment management, for your patients as well as your clinic. Patients who receive a reminder a day or two before the appointment are more likely to show up, especially if the visit was scheduled weeks or months in advance. Most systems allow you to tailor the reminders based on your patients’ needs, such as a reminder email a week ahead and an SMS the day before.
Follow Communication Preferences
Patients have a variety of communication preferences. As such, you may want to use multiple methods to communicate reminders and appointment confirmation requests. Some patients will never respond to a text message but will answer a phone call, or vice versa. Make sure to use a variety of communication options for cancellations or rescheduling, as well. A patient who does not want to receive a phone call may not want to call to reschedule, either.
Use AI to Anticipate No-Shows
In order to create a no-show policy that actually solves the problem, you should start by identifying it. If you are already keeping track of your patients through EHR, it may be easy to record when a patient does not show up for an appointment. By evaluating this data, you should be able to see which patients are more likely to no-show or cancel without enough notice. With this information, you could generate a list of patients who are more likely to need your assistance.
Identify Common Barriers
When patients do not meet a scheduled appointment, you should create a standard practice that involves contacting them to find out the reason. If you already have this data, you can classify it by reason and come up with the most common barriers.
Patients may give a variety of explanations. However, for the most part, patients tend to no-show due to problems accessing transportation or worries about the appointment. Patients who do not feel comfortable speaking English exclusively might not show up because they cannot guarantee adequate translation during the appointment.
Talk to Patients Before Appointments
For regular patients who have a history of no-shows, it may help if you address their concerns in advance. In many cases, having a discussion a week or a few days prior to the appointment could help a patient feel less stressed about the visit. New patients may want to hear about your standard practices and have a chance to ask questions before they begin. If a patient faces other barriers such as transportation or access to a translator, you can help them identify options to minimize those barriers so that they can arrive on-time and prepared.
Consider Problem-Solving Before Billing for No-Shows
Research indicates that more than half of a clinic’s no-shows come from the same 10% of patients. The best way to ensure that these patients will show up is to discover their problems and create solutions for them. Charging patients for a missed appointment can help to make up lost revenue, but it does not solve the initial cause of the no-show. Instead of billing, try to implement policies for these patients that encourage them to show up, such as same-day appointments or counseling in advance.
No-shows do not have to be a big problem for healthcare practice, especially for providers who use these tools. By identifying the problems and tailoring plans to suit patients who have additional needs, any practice can see the rate of no-shows decrease or even disappear over time.