How to reduce ‘no shows’ in your medical practice

By: Grant King, MedicalSearch Writer
18 October, 2016

If your practice sees 50 patients in an average day, chances are you’ll get about 3 or 4 ‘no shows’.

Aside from sending someone to collect each and every patient, it's unavoidable. Or is it? Here are a few ways you can minimise your non-appearances.

Make reminder calls part of your day

Have one of your employees spend the last half hour of each day calling all tomorrow's appointments personally. Not only will a personal call instil a little more emotional commitment to keep their appointment, 'no shows' can become cancellations or reschedules before they become problems.

Don't rely on texts and emails as reminders

Texts or an automated email system might seem like an efficient way to send appointment reminders, but they won't impact greatly on your 'no shows'. For a start there's no guarantee patients have even read them. But more importantly, they create no emotional connection. A real voice making a real connection is the only to keep your patients honest, get a reading on their intentions, and enhance the likelihood that they will keep their appointment.

Double check contact details before each appointment

People move, phone numbers change. So while it may add a minute or two to each patient's processing time, checking and updating contact details will probably save you a few costly 'no shows' later when you can't track people down.

Deal with 'no shows' amicably

Blatant signs posted around your waiting room showing 'no show' penalties may actually increase rather than decrease your non appearances. If someone is running late, they're far more likely to make a decision to forget it if they expect an adverse reaction. Remember, most people don't run late or miss appointments on purpose. Emergencies happen, last minute complications happen. 'No shows' can also occur out of fear – if a patient owes you money and is worried about being publicly humiliated at your front desk, it's easy to find excuses not to show. Keep money matters private and respectful.

Minimise wait times

If your clinic has a reputation for long wait times you're asking for a high percentage of non appearances. Patients who have to take time off work to see a doctor will be reluctant to do so if a ten minute appointment balloons out to two hours. So avoid overbooking your days and try to seek some appointment specifics at booking time. If it's clear a patient will be in and out in two minutes or needs a double booking, your day can be planned more accurately.