A busy healthcare practice thanks to appointment reminders via text voice and email

7 Proven Strategies to Boost Patient Attendance and Reduce No-Shows

Whether you run a private specialist practice, offer primary health care through a family practice, or manage outpatient clinics, you know that managing schedules is critical but difficult. Making sure everything fits together and runs smoothly is part of the day to day practice. One of the biggest factors that can affect your daily work is your no show rate--how often patients miss appointments.

7 Ways to Improve Appointment Attendance

Clearly Communicate Why On-Time Attendance Matters

For some patients, running a few minutes behind may be so routine for them that they rarely think about. While it might not matter in many of the situations they encounter, it's important to make sure they understand how late attendance affects them and their scheduled appointment. At the point of scheduling, or in your appointment reminders, convey the idea that patients should be punctual, and that showing up late to an appointment can affect the rest of your workday. If patients understand that on-time attendance matters to your office, they're more likely to comply and keep your schedule running neatly.

Leverage the Power of Appointment Reminders

Many patients cite forgetfulness as a common reason for missed appointments. If you aren't already, you can take a step to reduce no shows by implementing appointment reminders into your patient communication system. These automated email, text message, and phone call reminders provide an efficient way to establish contact with patients and remind them of upcoming scheduled appointments. By putting the power of sms text messaging, emails, and phone reminder messages to work, you're addressing one of the root causes that can lead to missed appointments.

Offer All the Information They Need Up Front

Other factors that can lead to a missed appointment include financial or insurance issues and transportation difficulties. Using your appointment reminders, you can brief patients on everything they need to know before their appointment. For example, if your office is located in a complex shared by other healthcare providers, you can provide detailed instructions on finding your office. That way, patients won't find themselves lost and running late to their scheduled appointment the day of. For offices located in a university hospital or other major healthcare facility, you may consider appropriate strategies to mitigate transport related difficulties, such as a shuttle from a parking lot or a temporary parking area where patients can be dropped off.

Get Patient Buy-In Before They Attend Their Appointment

Even though health care seems like a serious reason by itself, some patients may not take appointment attendance seriously unless they see a clear reason why they should visit. When you're scheduling the appointment initially, take time to cover any patient questions and reinforce the reasons they're visiting for their scheduled appointment. If they're scheduled for testing or a scan, explain what you're looking for and what their symptoms might signal. Giving patients reasons for their care means they're more likely to be involved and exhibit on-time attendance for their appointments.

Implement a Fee for Patient No Shows

While it's never pleasant to implement negative policies, regular missed appointments can severely impact your general practice and your revenue. It's not uncommon for healthcare providers to use a no show fee to encourage appointment attendance. Clearly communicating the terms of the missed appointments agreement helps patients feel like you've been upfront about your fees.

For example, in reminder text messages or phone calls, notify the patient that a no show fee of [Dollar Amount] will be collected if they miss an appointment, or reschedule after a certain window. If your practice runs on a tight time window, you should also consider letting patients know that attendance more than [X Minutes] late will be counted as a no show. It may feel harsh, but this measure can reduce no shows and ensure your general practice doesn't miss out on important income.

Implement a Personal Touch

If patients feel like they're just a faceless entity in the midst of massive, impersonal health systems, they're more likely to indulge in non attendance. You can do many things to make the healthcare process more personal, from using the patients name in appointment reminders to coaching staff and healthcare providers in better etiquette for interacting with patients. With these strategies in place, patient attendance will go up, and you'll have an easier time building patient loyalty as well.

Identify Patients Who Are Routine No Shows

For some practices, a small percentage of patients drive a large percentage of total no shows. If you suspect this is the case in your general practice, conduct a systematic review of your missed medical appointments. When you identify patients who have excessive missed appointments, you can contact them directly and open a dialogue around their no show frequency. In this conversation, aim to discover why they frequently miss appointments, and look for different strategies that could help this patient improve attendance. This is a gentle but firm way to cut down on non-attendance, while giving patients a chance to reform their behavior and remain with your practice.

Improve Patient Attendance With Reminderly

Ready to cut down on no shows and drive patient attendance, all from one powerful, intuitive platform? Reminderly offers a centralized, easy to use interface where you can send appointment attendance reminders via email, phone, and text message, collect patient feedback after appointments, manage a patient waitlist, and more. It integrates with common scheduling software, and can easily generate reminders from Excel or .csv files created by health management systems.

To get started, see how much revenue Reminderly could drive for you. Or jump right in with our two week trial period, no payment information required.

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