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How to reduce patient no shows at your practice

October 13, 2016

Patient no shows and last minute cancellations come with a big price tag for busy practices. Practitioners spend precious time ineffectively and, at the end of the day, staff are required to perform additional administration in following up. There’s a lot riding on the question of how to reduce patient no shows appointments and miscommunications surrounding them.

A few factors can lead to a rise in missed appointments each day, including:

  • Patients forgetting appointments, coupled with a poor staff follow up process

  • Patients recovering before an appointment and forgetting to cancel

  • Unavoidable emergencies

  • Difficulty accessing the clinic, via parking or public transport

  • Unclear policies on late arrivals

  • Inefficient systems that cause delays in appointments, resulting in difficulty for patients who have to take time off work

 To equip your practice with actionable tips for greater efficiency, we’ve explored a few simple ways to reduce patient no shows. At the end of the day, a lot of hard work can be done beforehand through setting up better systems, procedures and policies, along with implementing a digital or cloud-based booking system.


Simple ways to reduce patient no shows


Implement a booking system that better caters for patients’ habits 

When patients and practitioners are on the same page, it’s a big win for everyone. Most practices already have a digital booking system in place as their go-to approach for managing appointment. With patients becoming more tech-savvy, there’s a bigger opportunity to reduce the administrative burden on staff as well as give patients more control of their own schedule.

This better caters for patient habits, since research has shown that “patients prefer choosing their own appointment time, rather than working with someone over the phone and being given a time”. With practice management software like Clinic to Cloud now providing a portal for patients, simple administrative tasks like making and changing appointments are greatly reduced for staff as patients can confirm, cancel and choose their appointments right from their own devices.


Collect patient information earlier in the process 

Allowing patients to fill out important information and provide medical documents ahead of their appointment will have multiple benefits. Patients who spend time to provide a lot of information upfront will be less likely to miss their appointment. It will also better equip your practice to care for that patient, and encourage new patients to pick you over other practitioners.

Through cloud-based EHR systems that allow patients to directly upload their documents for the practice to view, practices can increase efficiencies greatly — which in turn will help appointments to run smoothly.


Set up a reminder system 

Whatever your booking system, patients may still forget – it’s understandable. That’s why setting up a streamlined reminder system benefits everyone. It’s one of the easiest ways to reduce patient no shows — in fact the International Journal of Healthcare Administration discovered a simple email reminder reduced no shows by 35%. A call or text reminder is necessary around 24 to 48 hours before the scheduled time - which can be automated using some practice management softwares.


Make your appointment policies clear and accessible

Even at the best of times, emergencies and other mishaps can happen, and late arrivals are a reality. Many no shows are actually the cause of patients running late due to traffic or other incidents and choosing just not to show up because they think they’ll be turned away.

Clarifying your late arrivals policy, along with recommendations on booking and cancelling appointments, will ensure clearer communication across the board. Position this information on brochures and on the practice website, for optimal accessibility.


Show appreciation for the do shows 

No shows are an unfortunate reality — emergencies do happen. However, to ensure the patient experience remains a positive one, it’s important to show appreciation for the “do shows”. Thanking patients for being punctual and encouraging receptionists to be the smiling, welcoming face to your business, goes a long way.


Over to you 

Clear communication and honesty is at the centre of the positive patient experience — when patients walk away happy and healthier, it’s also a big win for practitioners. What has your practice tried for improved efficiency and fewer no shows?

Day in and day out, we work with medical specialists across the country to help them run practices more efficiently — recently, we compiled a complimentary eCourse to equip every practitioner out there. Sign up today to receive 5 modules on how to champion ongoing growth in your practice, scale smart and avoid costly disruptions.

Clinic to Cloud does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for independent professional advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. See the Clinic to Cloud Disclaimer for further information.

Ready to transform your medical practice?
Rafic Habib
Rafic Habib is the Founder and CEO of Clinic to Cloud. Rafic has spent almost two decades in the healthcare technology industry and has a unique appreciation for the level of pressure and intensity the sector falls under in both private and public practice. Rafic identified the opportunity to leverage technology to optimise practice operations, improve patient experiences and improve the financial performances of clinics.