Having patients miss their appointments can represent a large expense for a medical practice. It wastes time, it lowers revenue, and it often throws off the entire rhythm of the organization!
It’s important to understand why patients miss their medical appointments, though. This way, you can implement strategies to reduce no-shows and encourage your patients to arrive for their appointment on time.
So why do patients miss medical appointments?
Reasons Why Patients Miss Medical Appointments
Patients report many different reasons for missing their medical appointments, but these reasons aren’t always obvious to those who run medical practices. Some of the reasons they cite are:
Unable to make it due to logistics
For many people, life sometimes gets in the way of being able to make an appointment. Patients report being unable to take off work, secure childcare, and arrange for transportation.
There doesn’t seem like there should be a reason why a patient doesn’t give notice. But patients are often unaware of how they should give notice, or simply don’t believe it’s all that necessary because they lack the understanding of how medical practices work.
Doesn’t understand the scheduling system
Many patients don’t know how medical practices operate. They may think that missing an appointment is no big deal for a practice. They think that it might reduce someone else’s wait time, or that it would simply be filled with another patient. This is mainly due to a lack of understanding about medical practice operations.
Negative emotions surrounding the appointment
Going to a doctor’s office is scary for a lot of people. The doctor’s office is where people get painful shots and get scary health news. It’s also a bit of an inconvenience to people.
Feeling disrespected or inconvenienced
Some patients feel like they don’t get the respect they deserve at the doctor’s office. They may be told to wait for a long time, or they might be told that the things they’re doing for their health are wrong. This breeds a distrust of doctors and the medical establishment as a whole.
Tips for Reducing No Shows
Optimize your reminders.
It’s not enough to just call them a few days before the appointment. There are other tools at your disposal.
Using automated reminders to call patients at certain points of time can greatly reduce the amount of staff time you spend on making reminder calls.
SMS reminders are an easy and less intrusive way to remind people about their appointments. Sending them one at different intervals will reduce the chance that they forget.
Make it easy for people to put their appointments into their Google calendars by including a Calendar invite link in your emails.
Nobody likes to be reprimanded for being late, but patients need to understand that missing appointments doesn’t do anyone any favors. Make sure they understand that a missed appointment does not free up a slot for someone else.