Missed patient appointments are a huge source of frustration, inefficiency and lost revenue for all medical practices.
When a patient doesn't show up for a scheduled appointment the time spent by the staff and providers is lost, leading to frustration, an upset o of the practices daily workflow and rhythm and most importantly - the loss of revenue for your practices most valued asset - time.
According to a 2018 article in Medical Economics, the American Osteopathic Association found that no-show rates in an outpatient setting can range between 23 percent and 34 percent, resulting in a loss of 14 percent of anticipated daily revenue.
While it's unlikely that you can eliminate all no shows, having a simple, well defined strategy can lead to a big reduction in patient no show appointments and a corresponding increase in revenue and staff satisfaction. Not to mention improved patient outcomes realized by patients getting the scheduled care they need.
By using your EHR's reporting tools you can identify the cost of no-shows and cancellations to better understand and quantify the financial implications of your current no-show rate.
Four tips to help reduce no shows and cancellations
Tip #1 - Create a Policy for Patient Appointment No-Shows and Cancellations
- Making the patient part of the solution and not part of the problem by having a clearly defined and displayed No Show policy.
- Include the reason why you're implementing the policy
- If you're going to charge for missed appointments make sure it's clear the patient is responsible, not the payer*
* (Note: Medicaid patients cannot be charged these fees)
- Consider a tiered fee schedule
- First no-show isn't billed
- Second and subsequent no-shows are billed
- Per the MGMA a $25-$75 fee is typical
- Define what's considered to be a no-show or cancellation
- Patients who arrive more than 30 minutes late without notifying practice
- Missing an appointment, but not following up to reschedule
- Patients must cancel appointments at least 24 hours in advance
Tip #2 - Use appointment reminder technology to notify patients
- Ask your patients their preferred method of receiving appointment reminders- text message, email, phone
- Set up the patient’s chart to include the preferred method
- Ensure you have the patient’s correct phone number and email address
- Create a cadence for how often you’ll send reminders
- Send reminders several days ahead of time and on day of the appointment
Tip #3: Inform your patients about this new policy
- Inform your patients before the policy will go into place
- Ensure that patients understand their responsibility by signing an updated agreement annually
- Post this policy in multiple locations (i.e. patient portal, office, website, etc.)
Tip #4: Educate your staff on why implementing this policy is necessary
- Educate your staff so they can communicate this change to patients and explain why it's important
- Ensure patient has signed agreement on file before charging
- Establish protocols
- Perform clinical review of patients to ensure safety
- Develop an escalation path for chronic no-shows and patients who do not pay
- Train your stall on different methods of sending appointment reminders. Text , email and or phone reminders
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