The occasional no-show appointment may not feel like it significantly impacts your business, but it can, in fact, be more damaging than you think.
Patients fail to make their appointments for various reasons: They may have forgotten, be embarrassed about needing hearing aids, or be fearful for the resulting diagnosis and/or treatment. Other causes could be a lack of finances or transportation to get to and pay for the appointment.
Regardless of the reason, there are actions you and your employees can take to decrease the number of no-show appointments and ensure patients get the care they need.
In addition to the frustration, patients who don’t show up to their appointments have negative effects — for themselves, your other patients, and your practice.
A patient who misses their appointment also misses the opportunity to have their condition evaluated, diagnosed, and treated. As a result, hearing and overall health outcomes for the patient will decline. Untreated hearing loss can contribute to a variety of physical and mental health conditions, including headaches, muscle tension, heightened blood pressure, memory impairment, social withdrawal, and depression.
And it doesn’t just affect the patient who fails to show up; a no-show may disrupt the other patients who did arrive for their appointments. You and your staff are left waiting to see if the absent patient arrives and trying to get a hold of them, potentially leaving those other patients waiting as well.
Longer wait times for patients will only make them annoyed and decrease overall satisfaction with your practice. Those left with a poor experience will be less likely to return, lowering patient loyalty and retention rates as a result.
Next to quality patient care, growing your practice’s revenue is a top priority. Ultimately, the decrease in patient satisfaction and retention loses you money. When a patient skips out on their appointment, you surrender the associated profits from the services you provide and products they might purchase.
So, how can you reduce the number of no-shows at your practice and improve business? Try these tactics.
Some patients may choose to schedule months in advance, when in reality they don’t know what could come up by that time. Additionally, the further away the appointment is, the more likely the patient could forget about it altogether. If possible, try to schedule patients as soon as possible when they call in or request an appointment on your website.
Regularly communicating with patients keeps your practice at the top of their mind and reduces the likelihood that they forget about their appointment. Start with an appointment confirmation email or text message right after scheduling, send multiple reminders leading up to the appointment date, and request that the patient submit a final appointment confirmation the day before. If they don’t respond, continue following up – through the patient’s preferred communication method.
Some patients may choose not to show up for their appointment because they are afraid or don’t know what to expect. When speaking with the patient to schedule or remind them of their appointment, you can curb the apprehension and anxiety by explaining what will happen when they arrive at your office. Ask if they have any questions or concerns and verify that the patient has a way to get to the appointment. If they do not, work together to find a solution, whether it be arranging transportation through a taxi company or enlisting the help of a friend or family member.
When the unavoidable no-show occurs, minimize the damage by contacting the patient within five minutes of their appointment start time. It could just be that they are running behind schedule and will be a bit late. However, if they’ve completely forgotten or simply chosen not to come, waiting hours to get in touch reduces the likelihood of getting them rescheduled. Again, contact them through their preferred channel, and get them booked for another appointment as soon as the situation allows.