8 Tips to Reducing No Shows

8 Tips to Reducing No Shows

According to The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), the average no-show rate for medical practices is 5- 7%. While this may not seem like a lot, it can quickly add up. For instance, if a practice collects a $20 co-pay and a $100 reimbursement, just two cancellations per day can amount to a loss of nearly $60,000 per year. Large or small, that is a significant loss for any practice. Below are 8 tips on how medical practices can reduce “no -shows”:

  1. Phone Call Reminder- One of the most common reasons patients say they missed an appointment is that they forgot. According to studies, patients are significantly more likely to keep an appointment when they receive a phone call reminder. While it may be difficult for staff to find the time to call each patient individually, consider the costs above to determine your return on investment. While postcard reminders are helpful, phone calls are much more beneficial to reducing cancellations.
  2. Email - Another option for a patient reminder is through email notification. One study found that email reminders provided a decrease in nonattendance rates by 36%. Consider implementing a practice management system with automated appointment reminders.
  3. Text (SMS) message -Kaiser Permente conducted a pilot program and found texting reminders to be extremely useful in lowering their no-shows. They were able to save over $275,000 in just one clinic. More than 95% of cellular phones now have SMS or texting capabilities, so be sure to update contact information when a patient makes an appointment, this will help when sending reminders.
  4. Create a list of patients -who can come in for an appointment with short-notice, this will help to fill empty spots and reduce lost time and billing.
  5. Schedule patients- who have missed more than two or three appointments, during a time that has less of an effect on the overall schedule.
  6. Overbook- if you consistently have 1-2 cancellations per day, get creative with scheduling and consider overbooking if it is appropriate and does not cause longer wait times. Perhaps shorten the time between visits or add more visits during a certain time of day.
  7. Charge for no-shows and same-day cancellations- unless it's an emergency. Be sure to clearly explain, and have new patients sign, a written no-show policy. Posting the policy where it can easily be seen by patients is also suggested.
  8. Evaluate or consider updating technology -to see if it can supplement or automate any tracking or patient reminder tools currently being used. Using technology to help improve a practice’s profits, enhance patient care, and simplify workflow is working smart.

    When a patient cancels or fails to show up for their appointment without giving appropriate notice, it affects the practices bottom line. As reimbursement continues to decrease and the cost of running a medical practice escalate, implementing strategies to help reduce cancellations can prove to be a smart return on investment.