Have you found that more and more patients are missing appointments? Are you unsure of how to address this issue? When patients do not come to their appointments, it not only causes inefficiency to the overall operations of the office, but it can cause significant interruptions to the scheduling process and can be a financial drain. Here are some ways to address patient no-shows.

Tip #1: Implement a strong “patient reminder” policy.

The most common reason for people missing their medical appointments is the simple fact that they forgot. A strong reminder system is important, whether you’re using manual telephone reminders, mailings, or a text message system. The time and money spent on a reminder system is not always foolproof, but it can be the most cost-effective solution to reducing patient no-shows.

Tip #2: Charge a fee for not showing up.

As an incentive to show up, many medical providers will charge patients a fee if they end up missing appointments. Be sure to follow any guidelines that are set by Medicare so you don’t run into any trouble down the road for charging fees for missed appointment slots. If you do implement this policy, you will need to make sure that the fees are well known to the patients. Clearly state what the policy is both in the office and in any mailings or appointment reminder emails.

Tip #3: Tell the patient they will need to find a new medical office.

If you have had the same patient miss repeated appointments, you can terminate them from the practice completely. This is usually only done in extreme cases and can have legal consequences if it’s not done in the right way, so be sure you research state laws and understand what terminating a patient requires. Usually, you will need to provide the patient with proper notice and if they are in the middle of receiving treatment, it could be considered patient abandonment which has serious legal ramifications. This is really a last resort option that should only be attempted when you have tried everything else.

When a patient misses their appointment, it can be a real drain on the practice as a whole, whether it is lost revenue or lost medical care for the patient that needs medical attention. If you can minimize the amount of appointments that are missed by implementing a process and policy through reminders and missed appointment fees, you should help curtail the amount of no-shows you see on a weekly or monthly basis.

If this continues to be an issue for your practice, let us know how we can help.