A common question for private practice owners is “How do I reduce appointment no-shows at my clinic?” Private practice no-shows can pose a real threat to a practice’s bottom line. Fortunately there are 5 main ways to reduce appointment no-shows.
No-shows are an inevitable part of any business that depends on appointments to deliver its service. Common reasons could be as simple as forgetting, a scheduling clash or an emergency. There could be other reasons for appointment no shows related to the service you give. Here are some tips for minimising the number of patients who turn up to their appointments.
Use text message or call reminders
This is a very simple way to encourage people to turn up. Have a secretary call all patients the day before or on the morning of their appointment to remind them. This will catch the forgetful ones and if a patient was thinking about not turning up, speaking to the clinic may encourage him or her to attend. This can be automated by sending out an SMS to patients. There are services available online that work with your scheduling calendar and send out messages automatically. These services are a sound investment.
Get honest feedback from clients
After an initial appointment, patients will often make a follow up appointment with the front desk as a matter of routine. However, if they have doubts about the quality of service or the cost, they may not want (or be able to afford) to turn up for a second time. Finding out what your patients really think about the treatment may answer some questions about why appointments are not kept. You may need to better demonstrate results or value.
Are you in the right place?
One big reason for no-shows is lack of access to the practice. If your clinic does not enjoy proximity to main highways and public transport, many patients simply may not be able to get to their appointments. Review your location and decide whether you would be better to move elsewhere.
Charge for no-shows
You may want to make it a condition for the next booking that failure to attend without reasonable excuse will incur a charge. If you make it clear to the patient that their credit card will be debited in the event of a no-show, some people will avoid further appointments. Perhaps this is a good outcome, since your schedule slots are not wasted. Others will make the appointment and be encouraged to turn up to avoid the fee. In any case, this tip will probably need a change in your own mindset as the business owner.
Sometimes, it’s basic fear that holds your patients back and skip an appointment. This may be fear of the unknown or fear of pain. Educating your patients and assuring them will help.