Missed appointments may be inevitable, but your no-show rate has a direct effect on private practice sustainability over time.
When patients don’t show for scheduled appointments, your private practice schedule gets thrown off—and you lose money.
Many private practice owners treat no-shows as a minor annoyance that’s regrettable, but inevitable. And that’s a huge mistake.
If you have several missed appointments each week, you are potentially losing thousands of dollars every year.
The good news is, you DO have some control over missed appointments in your private practice.
First, understand why patients miss appointments:
- They forgot about the appointment.
- It was just too hard to get away from work.
- Their childcare fell through.
- They had a change of heart because of the expected cost of treatment.
- They simply felt better by the day of the appointment and decided not to come after all.
- They were laid out with an unrelated illness (a common occurrence during cold and flu season).
But by far, most missed appointments can be attributed to “just forgetting.” Just as you are very busy at your private practice, patients are very busy and distracted in their professional and personal lives. It’s genuinely hard for many patients to remember their appointments with your office.
For that reason, the best way to reduce missed appointments is to implement a streamlined appointment reminder system in your private practice.
Appointment reminders can take many forms. (Keep in mind, too, that your private practice may need to follow specific regulations about patient communications.)
Reminder calls by staff. This may seem old-fashioned and even inefficient, but many private practice owners swear by the personal reminder calls. In an impersonal era when we all get robo-reminders from pharmacies, libraries, and everyone else, a personal call helps to cement the provider-patient relationship. It also provides an opportunity to immediately reschedule if illness or personal conflicts are going to prevent the patient from keeping the scheduled appointment.
Automated reminder calls. Some private practice owners choose this option. There are software packages available that offer automated reminders for patients. In some private practice settings, this could be the most appropriate form of default reminder.
Email reminders. Many patients seem to prefer email communications these days. Of course, you’ll need to be careful about following regulations to protect patient privacy.
Text reminders. In an era when we’re all glued to our smart phones and other mobile devices, texting could be the most direct way to reach patients, as well as the easiest way for them to notify you if they need to cancel an appointment.
The best reminder format might even be a combination of these. Perhaps your private practice could make personal phone reminders the day before the appointment as a default, but additionally provide email or text reminders a week ahead for patients who request them.
I invite you to visit here frequently for more tips about creating a sustainable private practice!
I wish you the best along your journeys!
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Have a great day!
The PPW team