During a busy week, it’s easy to forget about scheduled healthcare appointments. But patients who miss appointments can be frustrating for physician practices as the last-minute vacancies negatively impact revenue and efficiency.
While it’s impossible to eliminate no-shows completely, you can do a few simple things to reduce no-shows at your practice. Below are six ways to reduce no-show appointments to ensure your patients receive the care they need when they need it.
Six Ways to Reduce No-Show Appointments
1. Automate Appointment Reminders Via Text
One way to reduce no-show appointments is to use text messages to notify patients of their upcoming appointments. A simple courtesy appointment reminder via text increases the likelihood that patients will remember their appointment and follow through with attendance. Text messaging solutions can be integrated with your EHR, allowing you to personalize messages for each patient as you remind them of their appointment’s date, time, and location.
2. Leverage AI to Predict No Shows
Machine learning and artificial intelligence can use data from your EHR to predict which patients are most likely to skip out on their next appointment based on their previous appointment attendance. Knowing who is most likely to miss an appointment can allow you to take extra measures to ensure that the patient attends their appointment—or double book the appointment slot just in case.
3. Remind Patients Using Different Channels
Allow your patients to designate which communication channel works best for them. Do they prefer a text message or a phone call? Providing multiple options for patients to confirm or reschedule appointments in case their schedule changes can prevent them from becoming a no-show.
4. Minimize Transportation Challenges
While your patient may confirm their appointment when they receive the reminder via text, they likely won’t show up if they don’t have a ride. In fact, transportation is a barrier to healthcare for nearly 3.6 million people in the United States. Transportation challenges affect various patient populations, including the elderly and those with low income or fewer educational resources. Transportation challenges may include:
- Being unable to drive due to a physical, cognitive, or mental limitation
- Living geographically distant from healthcare services
- Not possessing a driver’s license
- Not having access to a working vehicle
More and more healthcare organizations are taking ownership of minimizing transportation challenges to reduce no-show appointments and improve patient care adherence. Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft already leverage technology to connect people needing a ride with a driver and vehicle. Partnerships with these companies allow healthcare practices to proactively ask patients if they need a ride to their appointment. Some technology solutions can even help identify which patients are more likely to need a ride. All of this can be done through savvy technology solutions that leverage EHR connectivity and text messaging to ensure a seamless experience for the patient without your staff managing the process behind the scenes.
5. Offer Options When There Are Scheduling Conflicts
Scheduling conflicts are another reason patients may be unable to keep their appointment. If you want to reduce no-show appointments, offering options for your patients outside of traditional working hours is important. Patients with limited time off or multiple jobs may have no choice but to skip their appointment to keep their work obligations.
A simple courtesy appointment reminder text message gives patients the opportunity to confirm if the date and time still work. But if you really want to reduce no-show appointments, you should also consider offering an option to reschedule in case something unexpected comes up. Proactively reaching out before the appointment is missed allows patients to find a better day or time that works with their schedule, which will minimize the likelihood that they’ll end up as a no-show.
6. Mitigate Worry and Uncertainty
Finally, some patients get cold feet when it comes to the doctor. From fear about an upcoming procedure to embarrassment from clinical advice that contradicts their lifestyle habits, some patients may opt to stay home and avoid the experience altogether.
One way to reduce no-show appointments is proactively addressing any concerns patients may have. Sending educational information via text at various intervals in between appointments is one way to build confidence in your patients and strengthen the patient-provider relationship. And when an uncomfortable screening comes up, you can send specific information or instructions that prepare them for what’s to come.
If you have patients whose native language is not English, offering additional resources in their primary language can go a long way in relieving fear. Addressing your patients’ fears before their scheduled appointment may allow you to reduce your no-show appointments.
We know missed appointments can be frustrating for your operational and clinical staff. That’s why we’ve spent time perfecting our appointment reminder solution that helps healthcare practices reduce no-show appointments and improve care delivery for their patients.
In fact, Adelante Health was able to reduce no-show appointments across their medical practices to 13 percent using Providertech’s appointment reminder solution. Their dental practices also saw a reduction in no-show appointments, moving from a 25 to 30 percent no-show rate to 18%.
Understanding why your patients are missing their appointment is important to finding solutions that reduce no-show appointments and the financial and clinical risks associated with them. Targeted appointment reminders and patient outreach can help you address and track why your patients are missing appointments, allowing you to tailor solutions that will best meet their needs and improve your clinic’s bottom line.