Reduce No-show Appointments With These Automated Strategies
Of all the things healthcare providers have to deal with, no shows are high on the list of frustrations. Waiting on patients not only disrupts the flow of your practice, but can also result in losses of revenue. After all, for every missed appointment, there are dozens of other patients that would have liked to be seen that day. No shows can be particularly frustrating because practices feel they can’t control whether their patients show up or not. While that might be true to a degree there are actually many small ways that practices can reduce no-shows and increase patient attendance. With automated technology, many of these problems are greatly reduced.
Issue reminders via an automated system
With an automated technology system, healthcare providers can easily implement a reminder system that takes the hard work out of the hands of office staff and is really effective. Most patients don’t intend to miss appointments, but with busy lifestyles, it can be easy to forget an appointment made three weeks (or even longer) prior. Setting up reminders through an automated system is easy and only needs to be done once. The ultimate goal of any practice is to help and care for patients. Helping them remember their appointments is just another way to do just that–and even better, it leads to higher profitability for your practice.
A confirmation email can be sent at the time the appointment is scheduled and then followed up with a phone call one week out. It’s good practice — and a common tactic used by retailers and other service providers — to send a 24-hour courtesy reminder via SMS or text message. Because technology is scalable, these notifications can be set up once for all patients with little to no extra effort needed from staff.
Use data to predict no-shows before they happen
Automated tools aren’t just great for streamlining processes, they also provide powerful insights into patient behavior. One study by PCC’s pediatric solutions team found that 60% of missed appointments were caused by only 10% of patients. Recording which patients miss their appointments will give staff a helpful insight into which patients need additional reminders. It’s also important to ask patients why they are missing appointments. For patients who rely on public transport, they may struggle to keep appointments at a certain time of day. These data points are important and should be recorded.
With this data in front of them, office staff can then proactively try to accommodate patients who may struggle with keeping appointments at certain times or days of the week. Data can also be used to discover any patterns with no-shows at your specific location. Some healthcare providers have seen a dip in attendance on the days following a holiday. Doing some analysis of the patterns of attendance at your own practice can allow for less staff to be present that day, therefore reducing costs.
Provide online scheduling to fill last-minute appointments
Online scheduling is becoming a popular method for booking appointments. When patients pick up the phone to book an appointment they are usually presented with a limited number of choices. Either that, or it can take several moments of back-and-forth to find a spare hour in their schedule that fits with your practice’s open time slots for that day. Opening up online bookings allows patients to see the full scope of appointments that are available and find something they are more likely to be able to attend.
Online bookings provide a stress-free option for patients, frees up staff to focus on other tasks, and takes some of the pressure off already busy phone lines. While it may not be possible to make amends for all no shows during the day, some last-minute cancellations will be able to be filled by patients looking for same-day appointments.
Weigh the costs of issuing a billing statement or educating the patients who are consistently missing their appointments
With only 10% of patients making up the majority of no-show appointments, issuing a bill for a missed appointment should be done with caution. While it’s up to your practice’s discretion whether to charge for missed appointments (patients on Medicaid cannot legally be charged) this may ultimately only result in patients seeking another healthcare service for their care. Before issuing a fee for part or all of the missed appointment consider educating the patient on your practice’s policy. Remind them how to cancel or reschedule their appointments if necessary. Call the patient to make them aware of the missed appointment and offer to reschedule as soon as possible.
As there will always be some patients who take up more of your staff’s time, automated technology can help here too. From reducing pre-registration times to increasing patient flow, automated technology can help to streamline many time-consuming tasks that previously your office staff needed to juggle between seeing patients. Office staff have more time and can focus on providing high-value interactions with patients instead. These interactions are important to improving patient satisfaction levels because they show a level of care that cannot be achieved through automation.
Embrace automation and focus on what really matters
Many healthcare providers will be working with existing technology systems that may not allow for the solutions mentioned here. The thought of having to overhaul and learn new technologies while keeping on top of workloads may be a barrier to embracing new systems. At Health Revenue 360, LLC we offer cutting edge technology as well as work across a variety of practice management systems to solve the specific problems your practice is facing. With a combination of thirty years in health revenue management, we can work with your practice to optimize the areas that are slowing you down, and allow your staff to get back to caring for patients. We act as trusted advisors, working alongside your team to identify and solve the gaps in your revenue billing cycle. Get started on reducing the number of no-shows your practice sees each day and contact us today.