If you’re wondering how to reduce no­show appointments, you’re likely not alone. Patient no-shows and late cancellations can be costly for medical practitioners. A Huffington Post Canada article reported that no-show appointments occur at a rate ranging of 10 percent to 25 percent at Toronto General Hospital when patients are not reminded about their appointment. That has a really adds up when you factor in lost physician time, labour to schedule and reschedule appointments, and the cost of handling paperwork.

Don’t miss out. Deliver appointment reminders that work! Keep reading for several ideas on how to reduce no show appointments.

  • Confirm appointments: Patients are five times more likely to show up for a scheduled appointment if they receive a Poll your patients on their preferred method of communication (text, email or phone call). For best results, send a confirmation when an appointment is scheduled and a reminder 24 to 48 hours before the scheduled time.
  • Reduce lead times: Booking appointments far in advance increases the likelihood that a patient will forget and be a no-show. In fact, no-shows for same-day appointments are 50 percent less than appointments made three weeks in advance. It could be beneficial to avoid scheduling wellness exams a year in advance. Instead, offer to contact the patient closer to when their yearly exam would be due. Mail a magnetic notepad, imprinted with contact details, reminding patients to schedule their exam. Follow up with those who don’t make an appointment with a text, email or phone call.
  • Provide tangibles: Provide a tangible way for patients to remember their appointment. A repositionable sticker easily attaches to a date book, calendar or refrigerator. Or, jot down appointment times and dates on a card and attach a Magnet Memo Clip to keep appointments top of mind.
  • Foster loyalty: Patients who don’t feel a connection or sense of loyalty to their healthcare provider may be less likely to keep appointments. This is especially true for younger people. Millennials are 24 percent less likely to have a primary care practitioner. Healthcare providers can foster loyalty by building relationships—learn the art of asking questions, develop good listening skills, involve patients in their care and provide personal touches. Birthday greetings, get well soon cards and notes of congratulations, when appropriate, are great ways to add a personal touch to your interactions.
  • Thank those who show: Encourage desired behaviour through positive reinforcement. Thank those who do show for appointments with a dual-purpose gift, such as a padfolio. It shows your gratitude while helping patients keep track of appointment cards and notes.
  • Keep a will-call list: No matter what, you’ll always have a few lost or cancelled appointments due to the unexpected. Fill those time slots quickly by keeping a will-call list of patients able to come in on short notice. It’s a win-win!

Make it easy for your patients to keep their appointments with these simple tips: confirm scheduled appointments, reduce lead times, provide tangible reminders, foster loyalty, reward do-shows and fill in missed appointments with a will-call list. No-show appointments will soon be a thing of the past.

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