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How to minimize patient no-shows at your independent practice

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Patient no-shows create a number of problems for the practice and for other patients. When an appointment slot is reserved for a patient who does not keep that appointment, the practice loses the income from that patient’s visit. At the same time, other patients who may have been able to take that spot had been told it was not available so it usually remains empty.

A study conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) found that “even well run practices have a daily average of 12 percent no-shows and last-minute cancellations. Some practices actually experience a whopping 50 percent rate.” There are a number of strategies that may help independent physicians minimize their patient no-shows.

Overbooking may help resolve the problem of that empty slot that results when a patient no-shows. To avoid creating other problems with overbooking, such as too full a schedule, the independent physician should study the trends in no-shows and appointment demand. Physicians Practice recommends alternating “new and established patient visits, with most of your double-booking being on the established patient front.”

Instituting financial repercussions for patients who no-show may be necessary to help with the lost income from patients who fail to show up for their scheduled appointments, particularly if the same patients do so repeatedly. Requiring a deposit when making the appointment or establishing a fee for missed appointments may get the message across to those patients.

The independent practice may also want to investigate the option of cloud-based appointment scheduling. Those patients searching for same-day appointments, in particular, will be able to fill those gaps left by no-shows when the appointment schedule is automatically updated and available electronically. Millennial-aged patients, especially, are more likely to want those available same-day appointments.

In addition, Elation’s EHR solution offers independent physicians the ability to send their patients automated appointment reminders. These automatic notifications are sent to patients two calendar days prior to their appointments. Our innovative feature will help to free up time for your office staff while also reducing no-show appointments for your practice.