5 Simple Ways to Decrease Patient No-Shows

You arrive at the office for another busy day. While looking at your schedule, you notice you’re booked solid from now until the time you leave. That’s great, as a full schedule means you are helping the maximum amount of patients. But then you have five patient no-shows throughout the course of your day. While the extra time in your day may have been welcomed, the lost revenue is not.

It’s estimated that patient no-shows in the United States cost $150 billion each year. In fact, a single 60-minutes of unscheduled time could cost you upwards of $200. With nearly 30 percent of all scheduled appointments turning into a no-show, these are numbers you can’t ignore.

Here are some tips and strategies for minimizing patient no-shows for your busy practice.

1. Appointment Reminders

Many offices place a phone call to remind patients of an upcoming appointment, which is great for patients who prefer this method of contact. However, in order to make your reminder process efficient and effective you need to know what works best for them. Have your front desk staff ask patients to provide their preferred method and use it. Some providers even offer the option to confirm or cancel via text message when the patient is unable to make the appointment. This helps to remind them in the way they’re most likely to respond and makes it easy for them to cancel immediately if necessary. This type of easy communication for patient engagement has been proven to drastically decrease no-shows.

2. Respect Their Time

Let’s face it, we are all busy these days. Sitting in an office for an hour or more just isn’t something most patients can do.

Start by doing all you can to keep your wait times to a minimum. This lets your patients know you value their time and keeps them engaged and coming back. The last thing you want is to decrease patient retention due to scheduling issues. 

Tools like telehealth video visits, online patient intake, online appointment setting, and easy-to-use patient collections solutions all help to reduce waiting room traffic.

Another way to respect your patient’s time is to get them into an appointment quickly. The longer they wait between scheduling and actually coming to see you, the higher the risk of them forgetting about the appointment. Try to work new patients into your schedule as soon as possible, while still keeping space for sick visits too.

3. Offer Prepayment Options

Allowing your patients to pre-pay gives them incentive to show up for their appointments because they have already made a financial commitment. One way you can encourage this is to offer a small discount to those who opt to pre-pay for appointments. This method could also be an added benefit to uninsured patients, which make up 12.2% of the U.S. population.

4. Set Expectations

It’s possible that patients don’t realize the added cost you incur if they don’t show up. While you obviously aren’t going to tell them the exact costs, it’s smart to mention that they exist. One way to do this is making your expectations known through your cancellation policy. Make sure each patient has reviewed and signed it and have easy access to it should they have any questions. 

5. Reach Out

Life happens. Your patient may not have meant to miss their visit, so give them the benefit of the doubt. Reach out with a simple message via their preferred method of communication to let them know you are sorry you missed them at their appointment and request that they call to reschedule. You can also use this communication to remind them of your missed appointment policy and any extra fees that may be added to their bill.

Patient no-shows are not just an inconvenience, they can quickly hit your bottom-line. Try these easy ways to limit patient no-shows today.


To learn more about how Kareo can help you provide more convenience for patients and reduce no-shows:


About the Author

Melissa has been a Registered Nurse for 20 years. She has an extensive background in Nursing leadership and obtained her Master’s in Healthcare Administration in 2016...

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