No-Show best practices are a matter of common sense and common courtesy.
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November 21, 2016

No-Show Best Practices for Your Practice

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While patients may be unaware of just how frustrating it can be when they no-show, healthcare practices across the board can attest to the aggravation and hassle a no-show can cause. Wasted preparation time, lost revenue, and scheduling issues are among the common complaints providers cite when listing issues created by no-show patients.

Don’t Let It Get the Best of You:
When a patient no-shows, there are some right ways to handle it, and some wrong ways to handle it.  Rather than letting the frustration get a hold of you and your staff, it’s good to have a plan for dealing with those unexpected non-arrivals.

1. Have a no-show policy in place. While a firm policy can’t prevent no-shows, it can set the stage in advance so that patients are aware of the consequences of missing scheduled appointments. Make the policy available to patients online, through a patient portal, and in hard copy for them to sign at an initial visit.

2. Remind patients before they no-show. Using an automated reminder system to alert patients to an upcoming appointment can defend against no-shows with excellent results.  We live in a world of constant motion, and forgetting or double-booking an appointment can easily cause even the most responsible patient to no-show.

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3. Use your no-show time wisely. If you get stuck with a vacancy in your schedule, take advantage of that time to improve communication with your patients. A few extra minutes spent with a patient in your office can help strengthen your patient-provider relationship. Or use the time to look over your upcoming patient newsletter. You can also use the time to familiarize yourself with information for your next patient coming in.

4. Have a no-show emergency plan. Last-minute emergencies happen all the time. By keeping a list of patients to call in the event of a cancellation, you can quickly fill a sudden vacancy quickly. If that list is automated, you can also save time and resources when you need to fill a last-minute cancellation.

5. Reduce no-shows with pre-payments. Allowing patients to pay in advance for scheduled treatments or visits helps patients to better budget for their healthcare expenses, and also provides an additional incentive for them to arrive for appointments. If patients have paid for an appointment in advance, they are less likely to no-show.

6. Provide no-show disincentives. Place a charge on your patient’s bill for no-showing that can only be removed by payment or scheduling and keeping a new appointment. You can reward patients who show on time with a weekly or monthly drawing for a gift card or other item. You can also give on time patients a discount on their bill as a reward.

7. Schedule accurately to help avoid no-shows. If patients arrive at your practice on time but are required to wait for more than 15 or 20 minutes, they develop the idea that you don’t value their time. If you don’t value their time, why should they value yours? This idea is not only negative but can lead to a bigger no-show problem. Be sure you schedule patients so they experience little to no wait time in your office.

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8. Build solid relationships with patients before they no-show. More than two-thirds of patients who leave your practice do so because they feel unappreciated. The first sign that a patient may be headed for the door is a no-show. If a patient fails to appear for an appointment, make sure you reach out immediately to let them know they were missed. Even before patients miss, be sure you’re building professionally friendly relationships that demonstrate your concern and caring for patients.

9. Help potential no-shows with transportation issues. Patients without reliable transportation, or who rely on public transit, may need a little extra consideration regarding their appointments. Offering these patients the opportunity to schedule safe, secure transportation through a ride-sharing service such as Uber will go a long way toward building loyalty and ensuring your patient doesn’t become a no-show.

10. Review your office workflow for areas that may trigger no-shows. Long waits in your waiting area or treatment rooms are a major complaint among patients who no-show. Surly staff members are another component that patients point to as a reason for not keeping an appointment. Add to that confusion over insurance or billing and you may have an in-house recipe for the no-show blues. Review each staff position and the person filling the role. Is everything working at peak performance, or could you do with a few new front office procedures - or staff members? No matter how much you may think things are okay, you may be fooling yourself about the reality of the situation.


A few simple steps can help to reduce the number of no-shows your practice experiences. The time, energy, and resources applied toward this effort will pay off many times more than what they cost. For more information about preventing no-shows, click here!

Tagged Topics: Tips & Best Practices | Patient Engagement | Highlighted Solutions |

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