Tips to Reduce No-Show Rates

A way to raise physician productivity in your practice is to reduce the number of no-show patients. While charging patients a fee for missed appointments can be a deterrent, considier these additional steps to make it easier for patients to keep appointments.

  • Remind patients of appointments in the way they want to be. When patients schedule an appointment, ask them their preferred way to get reminders: text, voice mail, personal phone call, or email. Automated messaging systems are convenient for both patients and practices, and make it easy for patients to confirm their attendance.
  • Put it in writing. Use appointment cards on site and automated confirmation notices to help patients remember the date and time.
  • Try to schedule patients as soon as possible, especially new patients and sick ones. The farther out the appointment, the more likely a scheduling conflict might arise, or the patient might feel better and decide to forego the visit.
  • Keep your waiting room time short and consistent. Busy people might decide at the last minute they don’t have time to go to the doctor if they’re not sure they can get in and out in a reasonable time.
  • Identify your chronic offenders. A study of pediatric practices found that only a small segment of families accounted for more than half of the practices’ no-shows. Consider devising a strategy to accommodate your regular offenders, such as double-booking their appointment times, restricting them to same- or next-day appointments, or adding personal reminder phone call(s) to their automated reminders. For patients who are chronically late for appointments, plan your appointment schedule on the assumption they will be late.
  • Educate patients. If you charge patients a fee for missed appointments, be sure to communicate that policy to patients. (See Develop a No-Show Policy – and Use It.) Also, be clear about reasons for a follow-up visit and why it is important for the patient’s health. Ask patients to notify the office 24 hours in advance if they will miss an appointment. Monitor your no-show rates and reasons. Ask patient why they missed appointments. Look at the no-show rate per physician and type of visit. What can you learn and act upon from your assessment? For example, do you have Medicaid patients who would benefit from free rides through a state program?

TMA Can Help

TMA’s practice consultants can help your practice devise a more efficient scheduling system, help train front desk staff, assess your no-show rates, and more to improve your practice’s productivity. To learn more, contact TMA Practice Consulting at practice[dot]consulting[at]texmed[dot]org or (800) 523-8776.

Published Dec. 13, 2019

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December 13, 2019

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