Creating No-Show Policies that Won’t Spook your Patients

Halloween is coming, and while many are fretting over ghosts and goblins, medical offices are stressing over their biggest fear – no-shows! Missed appointments are a huge problem among all medical practices. From wasted time to loss of revenue, no-shows can throw the best planned day into turmoil. Studies show that even the best practices have high no-show rates. This challenging and often uncomfortable subject brings out the biggest monster in even the best patients. With this being such a common theme, it’s not shocking that this is a constant concern among medical practices. Here are some no-show policy ideas that won’t spook your patients.

Ensure your policy reflects your mission.

Make sure your policy directly reflects you, your practice and your patient base. If your policy and your specific demographic of patients don’t match, you will lose them. Keep this in mind as you create your policies and work on putting them into place.

Evaluate your practice.

The best way to end no-shows is to stop them before they begin. Evaluate your office and see if there is anything you could be doing better to keep your patients showing up. Patients who arrive on time and have to wait more than a few minutes will get frustrated. Look at your office efficiency to see if it may be contributing to patients becoming no-shows. If you want patients to respect your time, you must respect theirs. To fix the no-show problem, it is important that practices understand the reasoning behind missed appointments and use this knowledge to make things better. Some patients are fearful, while others are concerned with their finances. Some patients suffer a last-minute complication, or don’t have reliable transportation. If this is the case with many of your patients, work with your staff to figure out how to handle this.

Different policy ideas.

If you are struggling with no-shows, research these policy ideas and figure out which one will work best for your practice.

  • Fee- The straight fee is the most commonly implemented policy. When a patient doesn’t show up, a fee is added to their bill. While this is the most straight forward policy, it can often cause the most headaches. If you utilize this method, be prepared for a lot of time spent removing the no-show fee.
  • Fee removed upon return- This style seems to be the most effective. It reminds the patient they need to show up and encourages them to make future appointments. It’s a win-win for the practice and the patient.
  • Positive Reinforcement- Rewards patients who keep their appointments and show up on time.

Experiment with different techniques and implement the method that works best with your patients and your practice. Whatever policy you settle on, be certain that your policy is provided in writing for your patients to clearly see. By keeping an open mind and looking for alternatives that work for you and your patients, you can reduce the no-show numbers in your practice and spend more time building stronger relationships with your patients.

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