Why Patients Miss Appointments & How to Reduce It

Every medical or healthcare practice has experienced it – a patient books in through your practice management system integration and you expect their arrival. But the appointment time rolls around and 15 to 30 minutes pass, and you soon realise your patient is a no-show.

This is a common occurrence for clinics, and what might seem like a minor inconvenience is actually costing businesses lost revenue and resources. So, why do patients miss appointments? And how can you reduce it?

What is a patient appointment no-show and how does it differ from a cancellation?

A no-show is a patient who did not appear for their scheduled appointment but also did not cancel the booking, often occurring without any prior communication with the practice.

This differs from a cancellation, where a patient will call ahead of time to inform the clinic that they will not be available to attend their appointment. However, this approach enables enough time for staff to schedule a new patient in for that time slot and make the best use of their resourcing and time.

So, why are patients missing their appointment bookings?

According to recent studies, the primary factor for a no-show is patients forgetting about their appointment booking (36%) followed by work-related issues (17%), not being notified by the clinic (9%), lack of transportation (6%), and child-care related issues (2%).

The reason for no-show patients is vital to consider as it can be prevented easily by proactive practitioners, therefore improving revenue stream, workflow, employee efficiency and patient satisfaction.

What is the cost of a patient appointment no-show?

It is important to determine the impact of this issue on your clinic and how much it is costing your business. Our recent blog post details how to calculate the cost of no-show appointments easily, by multiplying the average number of no-shows per day by the consultation price. Projecting this number over a year will determine annual lost revenue.

See the handy formula below to find out your practice’s annual lost revenue.

No-Show Lost Revenue Calculation & Formula:

Weekly Lost No-Show Revenue = (# No-Shows per. Day x Consultation price) x 7

Monthly Lost No-Show Revenue = Weekly Lost No-Show Revenue x 4

Yearly Lost No-Show Revenue = Monthly Lost No-Show Revenue x 12

Apart from the financial implications of no-show patients, there are also other consequences of this patient behaviour. This repeated lack of patient no-show can also impact staff satisfaction, morale, workflow, and resourcing within your team.

Customer wearing denim shirt sitting at a table with their phone and laptop, checking their watch for appointment time.

How do you reduce patient appointment no-shows? And how can practice management software help?

Every practice has their own way of conducting clinic to client communications. However, there are several techniques which are simple to implement in any practice from medical to specialist healthcare that can improve this no-show rate:

1) Set Up Automated reminders

One of the most common causes for missed appointment bookings is the patient forgetting the appointment was even made. This can be easily fixed by setting up reminders for your patients at each stage of their service journey, from initial booking to 24 hours before the appointment.

A helpful tip to nudge the patient at each stage of their journey is the rule of three. This means reminding patients at three key points: when the booking is made, 5 days prior to the appointment and 24 hours before the appointment.

The Genie Solutions Genie and Gentu practice management software’s (PMS) have advanced extra integrations with online patient registration and specialist bookings to streamline the initial sign-up and booking process. These programs will enable push notifications sent to your patient’s preferred communication mode such as email or SMS (or both!), with a ‘thank you for booking’ message featuring their appointment time and date.

This can be an automated system with a personalised message from your practice and business branding.

With the practice management software (PMS), you can also send automated reminder emails at the 5-day and 24-hour mark to ensure your patient is reminded of their appointment, plus further details such as how to get there, parking, and transportation routes.

Furthermore, if a patient does miss an appointment with no cancellation, it is important to call the client and leave a voicemail about appointment rescheduling. Alternatively, an automated email after the scheduled appointment time following up with the intent to reschedule can also assist in this. This ensures an appointment and the consultation cost incurred can be recovered at a later date.

A simple reminder can go a long way in reducing your patient no-show rates, providing patients with additional touch points from your business. This can help to nurture patient relationships.

2) Build strong relationships with your patients (where possible)

A unique point of difference for any practice can be the care you take in building strong relationships with your patients and nurturing this to improve customer lifetime value.

With Genie Solutions and other PMS, apart from sending out automated reminder messages, you can easily send out customised emails to your customers based on client information given on sign-up.

You can also ensure all clinical staff read customer information, past consultation notes and medical histories compiled through their practice management system before the patient walks into the room. This enables efficient consultations and shows the customer you care and value their business. Booking out 5 minutes to write notes after your client consultation keeps your files updated is also critical to ensuring the patient’s medical history is accurate.

3) Create a proactive practice schedule

It is also important to create a proactive schedule for your practice. This involves keeping a wait list to fill open gaps and appointments resulting from no-show patients. Additionally, including a written missed appointment policy and charging a small nominal fee for missed appointments provides incentive to the patients to attend their booked consultation time.

Providing an incentive for pre-paid appointments such as a small discount can also assist in boosting appointment attendance, due to the financial investment from the patient. In your practice management system such as Genie or Gentu, you can add an integration with a secure patient payment system such as Ezidebit. This is a simple method for customers to book and pay online before the appointment date.

Another policy to consider is patient check-in 15 minutes prior to the appointment, providing a buffer for over-time consultations and patients who may be running late.

These are easy solutions to implement within your practice to reduce no-show patients, improve your overall service offering and nurturing customer relationships. If you want to further automate your practice management software our experienced team at Genie solutions is here to help!

We can assist in building the advanced extras of patient payment systems, booking and sign-up features into your existing account, or create a PMS from scratch to suit your business. Don’t hesitate to enquire with Genie Solutions today!

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