How to Improve Patient Engagement with Effective Patient Notifications

| March 28, 2017 | By

“No-shows.”  They’re the bane of every healthcare practice.  Although the rates may be negligible in high-volume, high-demand clinics, a typical practice may experience a 5-10% no-show rate – and no-shows can make up as much as 50% of the daily schedule in some specialty settings.  

In such a situation, the impact on a practice’s bottom line can be staggering.

Why Do Patients No-Show?

Some of the common reasons for patient no-shows are:

  • Personal conflicts or barriers to attendance, such as transportation issues
  • The appointment being scheduled well in advance of the actual appointment date
  • Cost of the visit or an existing balance with the provider
  • Lack of connection with the provider – for example, new patients are much more likely to miss an appointment than are established patients
  • A poor understanding of the importance or benefits of the visit
  • Patient dissatisfaction with the practice

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Tackling the No-Show Problem To Improve Patient Engagement

There is no “one size fits all” approach that will completely fix the no-show issue and address all of the causes above; however, finding a few key strategies to reduce your practice’s no-shows should be a priority.  

Some of the commonly cited reasons – dissatisfaction, poor understanding – require a human touch and might be addressed in other parts of your workflow; however, a major contributing factor to the no-show problem is simple human forgetfulness, especially when there is a significant amount of time between the scheduling and occurrence of an appointment.  

There will always be unavoidable last-minute conflicts that prevent some patients from attending appointments, but with the right technology, your practice can dramatically decrease your overall no-show rate.   

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Put Technology to Work and Reduce No-Shows

For years, a standard practice in scheduling and reminders was to simply assign a patient an appointment and to send a reminder by mail. Is it any wonder that no-shows abounded?

 An effective notification system can take into account your patients’ preferred methods of communications – and the ones that are most likely to get their attention.  

Email?  Text?  Phone call?  No problem.  Provide a reminder that fits your patients’ lifestyle, and you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to get them in the door.  

Asking for patient confirmation in response to a notification puts some of the responsibility back on the patient, improves patient engagement and also makes it more likely that a patient will attend.  

Replying by email, pushing a button, or texting back “Y” lets patients communicate that they plan to keep their appointment.  This also prompts patients who might have a schedule conflict to cancel and reschedule, rather than simply not showing up – in turn allowing your practice to fill the now-available appointment slot from a wait list or with a new appointment request.  

Other Benefits of Patient Notifications

A comprehensive approach to notifications will not only address appointment reminders, but will provide a hub for all patient communications.  

When evaluating your technology options, ask yourself:  Does this technology…

  • Provide multiple ways of reaching a patient?
  • Allow my practice to easily track all communications that have been sent to a patient?
  • Generate direct mail and reports when I need them?
  • Notify my patients when there is information that they need to view or respond to?

Implementing a technology solution that allows you to answer “yes” to these questions will put you on your way to reducing your no-show rate, cutting costs, and creating a smoother work environment for your staff as well.

What do you currently do to improve patient engagement for your practice?


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