tips for reducing no-show rates

Tips for Reducing Your No-Show Rate

Is your practice experiencing a high patient no-show rate? If so, you are not alone. Missed appointments are a significant problem in healthcare.

The truth is, you’ll always have some patient no-shows. But you can take steps to reduce your no-show rate and prevent lost revenue. A critical first step in decreasing missed appointments is knowing your no-show rate.

Once you have calculated your no-show rate, you can create a plan to lower it. Automated appointment reminders make it easy for you to reach out to patients. It’s also effortless for patients to cancel or reschedule their appointments well in advance. That way, you can keep your schedule up-to-date, fill in open appointment slots, and maximize your revenue.

Why Do Patients Miss Appointments?

There are many reasons why patients may miss a medical visit. They could have gotten confused about the timing or had an unexpected, last-minute issue arise. Some patients may feel they can’t miss work or personal commitments for a scheduled medical office visit.

Unfortunately, some patients know they can’t make it, but don’t want to pick up the phone to call you and cancel. Over time, those no-shows can have a detrimental effect on your business. No matter the reason, every missed appointment costs your medical practice money and costs your staff valuable time.

Why Patient No-Shows Are a Big Problem for Medical Practices

Patient no-shows are much more than just an inconvenience in the medical industry. In truth, high numbers of missed appointments have a significant impact on the quality and efficiency of care that practices can deliver.

Unfortunately, research has found that no-show rates can run as high as 33% in some medical practices. In those situations, practices find up to one-quarter of their schedule is affected by patient no-shows and lose up to 14% of their revenue per day. 

When you experience a high number of missed appointments, several problems occur that affect both your practice and your patients.

Decreased Efficiency

Every missed appointment disrupts the planned flow of daily activities. Instead of streamlining their workload, staff members must make constant adjustments in their routines to address no-shows. This can decrease efficiency and diminish the quality of care given to patients.

Reduced Resource Utilization

When practices know which patients will be visiting the office, they can plan around those patients’ conditions and treatment needs. However, missed appointments make it difficult to plan for the resources you need to have on hand. You may expect to need team members with specific skill sets, but find them sitting idle if too many patients don’t show up for appointments. 

Longer Wait Times

Some practices resort to double booking to overcome the challenge of a high no-show rate. With this approach, the practice may meet their daily appointment goals, but they can never predict which patients won’t show up for their appointments. That means some patients may face longer wait times—which leads to more frustration and decreased patient satisfaction.

Reduced Patient Loyalty

Even a single missed appointment can have a detrimental effect on a patient’s longevity with your practice. Patients who show up for scheduled visits build relationships with staff members and feel connected to your practice. Research suggests patients who don’t show up for even one appointment are more likely not to come back. 

Worse Health Outcomes for Patients

A high no-show rate can can mean negative consequences for patients who need regular medical visits. Patients who miss appointments may engage in less routine or preventative care, which can result in more chronic conditions and worse health outcomes.

How to Calculate No Show Rate: Use this Formula

The formula to calculate your no show rate is simple:

Patient No-Show Rate = Number of No-Shows / Total Number of Scheduled Appointments

If you want to track your no-show rate, you should create a data collection plan. A smart strategy is to look at appointment and no-show data at the end of each month for each provider. Tally up the total number of missed appointments. You can then calculate the total no-show rate for each provider and your entire office.

Track your no-show rate over time and take note of any trends. Once you know your baseline no-show rate, you can see the impact of any adjustments you make to reduce no-shows.

However, you need to make sure you are using the right numbers in your calculation. Avoid these three common mistakes healthcare providers make when calculating their no-show rates.

1. Don’t include walk-in appointments in your total number of scheduled appointments

Some practices, such as urgent care facilities, routinely accept walk-ins. Others may use walk-in visits as a way to fill unexpected schedule gaps due to patient no-shows. Never include these unplanned visits in your scheduled appointment totals. Instead, you should only divide by the number of scheduled appointments, even if your practice accepts walk-ins.

2. Don’t include cancellations and re-schedules in your number of no-shows

Your no-show rate should only factor in patients who had an appointment with you and didn’t get in touch with you to change it. Only include patients who didn’t show up at all. You should also leave last-minute cancellations out of your no-show total since those patients did give notice, even if minimal.

3. Don’t mark no-shows as “canceled”

If a patient contacts you to cancel or reschedule, they don’t qualify as a no-show.  A no-show is a patient who gave you no prior notice that they were not going to make an appointment.

How Patient Relationship Management Reduces No-Show Rates

The good news is that you can take action to reduce your practice’s no-show rate. One of the best strategies to reduce no-shows is to implement a comprehensive patient relationship management solution (PRM). With an advanced PRM system, you’ll gain access to robust features that let you stay connected to patients between appointments and help them manage office visits and any treatment schedules.

Enhanced Communication

A PRM system makes it much easier for you to stay in touch with patients. You can establish a secure Patient Portal that lets patients have access to details on upcoming appointments so they’ll never feel confused about the timing of their next visit and will be far less likely to miss it.

Through their Patient Portal, patients can easily request, cancel or reschedule appointments at any time, from any location with any device.  They won’t need to wait for your office to open in order to manage their appointments. That means they save time, and you do too!

Also, your portal can provide two-way messaging so patients can reach your staff with any questions. They can also access health education information to help them understand how to manage any conditions or make health-conscious choices. Both of those features can help patients take charge of their well-being and feel more engaged with your practice.

Automates Appointment Reminders

Reminding patients about upcoming appointments is one of the best tactics to reduce no-shows. However, having a team member dedicate time each day to calling the next day’s appointment roster is extremely time consuming. A PRM solution eliminates this tedious task and frees your staff up to focus on higher-value activities.

Through a  PRM, you can deliver appointment reminders via several channels—email, voice, and text. That way, you’re much more likely to connect with patients and prevent them from forgetting about their appointments.

You can also send multiple reminders at intervals that work best for your practice instead of making a single outreach attempt the day before a scheduled appointment. Once you establish your preferred cadence for appointment reminders, this process can be 100% automated and “hands-off” for your team, which can give them more time to focus on delivering excellent service.

Improves Patient Engagement

A robust PRM solution includes many features that help increase patient engagement. Not only can your Patient Portal be a source of education, but you can also send out valuable educational emails. Emails keep your practice and brand top-of-mind with patients. Your patients will look to you as a trusted expert and resource who genuinely cares about their lives and well-being.

When patients feel a stronger sense of engagement with your practice, they’ll be more likely to stick with you over the long term. They’ll also be more likely to schedule and keep appointments, which will lead to better health outcomes and a higher quality of life.

Reduces Phone Calls for Practices and Patients

Many practices assign one team member with the time-consuming task of making appointment reminder calls. Often, that person also has other responsibilities, including receiving incoming calls and greeting patients. The daily task of reaching out about next-day appointments can lead to lower service levels for inbound calls or incoming patients.

With a PRM solution, you can eliminate all manual phone outreach about upcoming appointments. You can also let patients reschedule online without having to make calls—and that’s a win-win for you and your patients.

Decreases Patient No-Shows with Demandforce

One of the best strategies to reduce patient no-show appointments is to implement a PRM solution for your practice. With Demandforce, you can automate appointment reminders across multiple channels to help decrease no-show appointments. Building an appointment reminder plan not only benefits appointment attendance but also gives your practice an opportunity to relay pre-appointment information to patients. Our Patient Portal also gives patients the flexibility to reschedule or cancel an upcoming appointment without having to get in touch with your office via phone or email.

When you reduce patient no-shows, you can alleviate one of the biggest challenges that affect many healthcare practices. You’ll be able to deliver quality care more efficiently and make a positive impact on the lives of your patients.

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