Missed appointments are a challenge that every practice will face at some point. Growing a practice can be difficult when patients schedule appointments and then don’t show up. These missed appointments affect all areas of a practice, including wasting valuable staff time preparing for patients who don’t keep their appointment, and the lost revenue caused by unexpected holes in the schedule. While all practices will have some patients who miss their appointments, there are three common characteristics among practices with high numbers of no-shows.
The first of these characteristics is a lack of pre-appointment communication. This communication serves as an appointment reminder to the patient, but is also helpful in making sure the patient understands the importance of the upcoming appointment. In a study from the Annals of Family Medicine, they found that 41 percent of patients who missed their appointments did not fully understand the ramifications. In fact, some actually felt like the missed appointment would result in a positive outcome for the medical practices. In reality, missed appointments result in lost revenue and patient care being compromised, a situation where neither party wins.
Expected no-show appointments
The second common characteristic is the acceptable level of no-shows in each practice. While it is certainly realistic to expect some missed appointments, at what point is the acceptable no-show rate so high that it is hurting the practice? In an opposite approach, some practices supplement the amount of inevitable no-shows by consistently overbooking their appointment slots. The problem with this strategy is what happens when appointments are overbooked and multiple patients show up for appointments booked at the same times. Generally, this scenario will result in putting the rest of your schedule behind, and your patients will have to spend extra time in the waiting room. This negatively impacts the patient experience, and reduces the likelihood of their returning to your practice in the future.
Importance of ongoing care
The third characteristic within these practices is the failure to stress the importance of ongoing care to the patient. Proactively communicating the importance of a visit, before the appointment and at the point of care, positively impacts the way your patients view their care provider. When patients receive open and frequent communication, they are more likely to view their experience with their care provider as a positive one. Patients who respect their provider are more likely to follow their advice and adhere to the prescribed treatment. And that includes attending their scheduled visits.
Reducing the number of missed appointments in your practice is vital in ensuring your practice runs smoothly. Knowing the common characteristics of practices with high occurrences of missed appointments can guide the best practices in your office.
To learn more about how to improve communication with the patients in your practice, download our white paper.