Which Wins? The National Average No-Show Rate or Yours?

Posted on Jun 12, 2018 by Lori Boyer

National average no-show rateHave you ever wondered what the national average no-show rate is for your specialty? Or what your no-show rate is in comparison? If so, this post is for you. Patient no-show rates can range anywhere from 5 percent to 30 percent or more. Here are the averages for some of the most common healthcare specialties as discovered by multiple studies:

  • Dentistry: 15%
  • Optometry: 25%
  • Primary Care: 20%
  • OB/GYN: 18%
  • Pediatrics: 30%
  • Dermatology: 30%
  • Ophthalmology: 22%

These no-shows can lead to incredible losses for your practice. The average value of a single visit for these specialties ranges from $125 to $350. The costs can end up being in the thousands or tens of thousands every month. 

(You may be interested in this blog post that covers ways to reduce no-shows.)

What is your average no-show rate compared to the national average no-show rate?

To determine what your no-show rate is, you're going to have to dust off your old math book. Look at your last month (and then go back even further to get a good average for the year). How many appointments were scheduled? Write that number down. How many patients did not show up for their appointments? Write that down. 

Now, your no-show rate will be the number of no-shows divided by the total number of scheduled appointments. You will then multiply that number by 100. 

Average no-show rate calculation

For example:National average no-show rate for practices

Let's say that last month you scheduled 400 appointments and only 300 patients showed up (so you had 100 no-shows).

So...100/400 is 0.25

You then multiply 0.25 by 100 to get your total no-show rate. 

0.25 x 100 = 25% no-show rate. 

How does that number compare to the national average no-show rate for your specialty? Are you higher than the average? Or are you doing well? Making even small improvements to your no-show rate can have a big impact on your bottom line. 

(Read how this practice cut their no-show rate by 50% here.

Reasons patients don't show up for their appointments

While every situation is unique, there are a few common themes we hear from patients about why they don't show up for their appointment. Here are a few of those (and what you can do about it):

1. They forget. We're crazy busy these days. Many patients are very literally running from place to place. It's easy to forget things you've scheduled, especially if that thing was scheduled far in advance. This is one of the BEST reasons for your practice, because you can find ways to help. Forgetfulness is where your appointment reminders come in really handy. Studies show that patients who receive appointment reminders are far more likely to show up than those that do not. 

2. They don't have the money. Let's face it. Healthcare can be expensive! Try to come up with creative ways make the payment side easier for patients and you will find that many more are showing up for their appointments. A couple of ideas that are very successful include offering healthcare credit such as Care Credit or by letting patients pay through payment plans. 

3. They're afraid. Who likes getting poked and prodded all the time? The compassion you show patients and the overall atmosphere can make a big difference to patients who are feeling a little nervous about visiting you. 

4. Last minute conflicts. There will be times you just can't get away from it. Emergencies and other conflicts are inevitable. Make it easy for patients to let you know about these issues. Texting is one of the best ways. And then once they've canceled, use a wait-list system to get that appointment filled ASAP. 

To read more about keeping your practice full, check out our free checklist, "7 Research-Backed Steps to a Patient Friendly Practice."

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Lori Boyer

Lori Boyer

Lori Boyer has spent over a decade developing content and customer strategy for a wide variety of companies. She especially loves "walking a mile" in the shoes of her target audience. At Solutionreach we focus on relationships - building and maintaining them. She does the same. Lori Boyer is a lover of crisp fall mornings, a good book, and just about anything Beauty and the Beast related.

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