The Most Effective Ways Experts Avoid Patient No-Shows

No-shows not only lead to the loss of anticipated revenue, they pose risk to the quality of healthcare service and patient outcomes. Patients who fail to show up for their appointments often require more expensive care later.

As organizations tackle the issue of no-shows more earnestly than ever, it’s important to understand who is most likely to no-show for an appointment and the best ways to drive engagement, satisfaction and – ultimately – better clinical and operational outcomes for both patients and providers. 

What Not to Do to Avoid Patient No-Shows
As many healthcare organizations try to find ways to reduce no-shows, many find that some common strategies for reducing no-shows simply don’t work:

  • Charging Patients for Missed Appointments. Charging a fee creates additional work for staff and fails to address many of the underlying reasons that patients miss appointments. 
  • Double Booking Appointments. Double booking appointments is betting on the probability that a patient won’t show up for their appointment, and it’s a recipe for unhappy patients. 

Common Misconceptions:
In addition to frequently-tried but unsuccessful no-show solutions, common misconceptions around patient no-shows can get in the way of organizational successes and block them from establishing trust with patients. A few common misconceptions about no-shows include:

  • Every appointment has equal likelihood for a “no-show.” This is simply not true. Depending on your organization type, and varying appointment types with different sorts of patients, your strategy/approach to no-shows must vary to address this disparity. 
  • Patients no-show because they can't get in touch with their doctor last-minute. If a practice is using modern tools like chat or has an easily accessible portal, this difficulty can be significantly offset and often resolved.  
  • There's no way to have much insight into whether a patient will no-show or not. Demographic information and factors (i.e., how accessible their transportation is, what their work schedule allows, how crucial they perceive the appointment to be) reveal critical information about the likelihood of a patient to no-show. 

Effective Ways to Reduce No-Shows
What does work when it comes to reducing no-shows? These initiatives can radically reduce the number of no-shows at their offices:

  • Make data easily accessible. The more information your organization has available on its website (i.e. about staff, specialty expertise and the variety of services offered), the easier it is for patients to engage and feel welcome, reducing the likelihood of a no-show.
  • Improve proactive education/communication to engage patients. Understand what communication methods work and why, prioritizing these outreach methods to engage patients. 
  • Automate health campaigns and appointment reminders. Providers who send automated campaign information and reminders tend to find greater success in getting patients to show up for scheduled appointments, and have the added benefit of reducing manual outreach by staff.  
  • Implement 2-way chat. Research has found that most providers (96%) are not yet utilizing automated chat, but organizations that leverage traditional communications methods with chat find that they’re able to more effectively interact with and engage patients. 

Reducing no-show rates is an opportunity for medical practices to increase revenue, improve access to care, and decrease waste.

Click here to read more detail on tactics, statistics, and strategies for how to avoid no-shows at your organization through an integrated, centralized scheduling solution.

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