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How to Handle No-Shows and Late Patients | Patient Scheduling

Posted by Sharon Chin on Jan 24, 2015 10:30:00 AM
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No_Show_patient_schedulingYou can be incredibly organized and lay out a perfect schedule and plan your day ahead. But a late patient or a no-show can really throw off your entire schedule and ruin your day! Late patients can cause a build-up of wait time for other patients and may even cause you and your staff to work past office hours. And no shows directly impact your practice’s revenue. Some patients just don’t value time as much as you do, but there are also patients who encounter real emergencies. Either way, we show you a few ways that you can reduce the number of late or no-show patients.

3 Ways to Reduce No-Shows and Late Patients and Increase Patient Scheduling


Implement a Late and No Show Policy 

Include an easy to understand policy in the pre-appointment paperwork all your patients have to fill out. Depending on your flexibility, there are many ways to implement a late or no show policy. Some examples include:

  • A late or no show fee: Money is a common motivator. When there are monetary consequences, your patients will work harder to make it to the appointment on time. A no show fee equivalent to an average co-pay can help your customer understand the exact value of how much your practice is losing when they don’t show up, which might make them more accepting of your policy. It’s up to you to be flexible with the policy. There are also valid reasons to missing an appointment and you don’t want to seem like an unreasonable business. You can waive the no-show fee if the patient calls to reschedule their appointment at least 24 hours ahead of time.

  • An Automatic Reschedule: If you don’t want to charge a customer for being late, you can make your patients reschedule if they are more than 15 minutes late.

Make it a point to highlight the details of the policy to make sure that your patients know that one is in place and won’t be caught by surprise when they are billed a late fee. If patients are scheduling an appointment through the phone, make sure that the receptionist takes the time to explain the policy.

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Reward Punctual Patients

Sometimes positive reinforcements work better than negative reinforcements. Rewarding your patients can increase engagement and loyalty to your practice! On months that you experience an increase in no-shows, shoot out an email blast letting all your patients know that all punctual patients will be entered in to a drawing for a gift card at the end of the month. You can also offer discounts on the winner’s bill if they purchase a frames at the end of their exam.

Use a Patient Recall System 

Appointments that are scheduled more than 3 months in advance can be hard to remember. And you should not be wasting your time calling patients reminding and confirming appointments every day. A patient recall system can help send automated reminders to your patients, and some solutions even send reminders through different communication methods if a response is not received from one. For example, if your patient does not respond to email within 2 days, a text will be sent instead. Investing in a patient recall system can help you schedule your calendar more efficiently, saving your practice time and increasing revenue.

How does your practice handle no shows or late patients? Let us know in the comments below!

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Topics: Tips for ECPs, Office Manager

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