No show rates are a real problem for many practices. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Medicine, the average rate is steadily between 23-34% across practices. Some no-show appointment slots can be compensated for through walk-ins or last minute appointments, but complete recovery from a high no show rate is nearly impossible. Losses are so certain that for many practices, they’re built in to the budget.
Are no-shows completely avoidable? No. However, they can be reduced – and doing so is not rocket science or magic. By dialing in to the way you communicate with your patients, you can improve your no-show rate by 30% or more.
5 Things That Drive No-Show Rates Higher:
1. Forgoing appointment reminder calls. The same study by the American Journal of Medicine showed that patients are significantly more likely to keep their appointment when they’ve received a phone call reminder and have been able to confirm their attendance. This confirmation can lower no-show rates by as much as 30%.
2. Having staff do appointment reminders manually. Yes, you can have staff dial appointment reminders. For most practices, the staff is already stretched thin and this is unreliable. All too often, these calls fall to the bottom of the to-do list and are not consistent.
3. Using practice management systems to call patients. Practice management systems are great with patient records, billing and scheduling, but aren’t the best tools for automated appointment reminder calls. Even with an outbound calling feature, your practice management tool likely doesn’t manage returned calls confirming appointments. These have to be fielded by your administrative staff instead, bogging them down with a process that could be more automated.
4. Using your regular phone line for appointments. You need to have a dedicated appointment line. Patients can be called and reminded about appointments, refills or anything else you designate important enough to warrant a reminder call. Your patient can return confirmation calls without having to speak to any of the staff if you are using a dedicated phone line.
5. Making it difficult for patients to contact you: Many practices are adding online patient portals. These portals offer the patient a more customized experience. Adding a “call now” feature can further enhance the portal by making it easier for patients to call in when it’s convenient for them, and be directed to the correct person. By empowering your patients to access assistance in this way, you’re steps ahead of the competition and your patients will be more apt to show up to their appointments.
People have busy schedules and there is always something vying for their attention. By providing your patients with an enhanced customer experience and being consistent with automated appointment reminders, you can dramatically reduce your no-show rate. Just imagine what a 30% decrease in no-shows could do to boost your practice revenue.
Are your phones to blame for high no-show rates? We can help. Milner is a leading provider of communications solutions for physician practices. Contact us for an assessment.