“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
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.
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?