Do you know what your no-show rate is? “About a quarter” or “six-ish percent” is not a good enough answer! You need to be able to quantify these numbers so that you can start improving on them. We know that pesky patients who fail to put in an appearance are not good for business, but they are a fact of life – while your no-show rate is never going to be zero, we’ve got some practical tips to keep it down:
• Develop a rapport with new patients – patients who feel they have no ties to a practice are more likely to skip an appointment because they don’t have any loyalties to you. From communication about the appointment to in-house experience, make sure you’re doing all you can to make them feel like they have an established relationship with you.
• Acknowledge wait times – these are unavoidable, but there are things you can do to improve them. Consider how you can improve your patient’s experience when they’re killing time – for example, allowing them to check in and get updates about their position in the queue using their mobile means they don’t have to be bound to one waiting room and improves their experience.
• Be aware of transport – many patients will be reliant upon public transport or loved ones getting them to your practice; make sure when appointments are being set that you check what days are convenient for them.
• Know that it impacts the patient too – a quick, small email batch can be sent out to the day’s no-shows checking that they’re okay and prompting them to reschedule. Let the patient know that their absence was noticed, and show that you care about their wellbeing above all else.
• Make note of the reasons – keeping track of the reasons why people aren’t showing up may help you to identify trends and plan how to accommodate for these people in the future.
• Be flexible – encourage patients who are consistently late to reschedule if they think they’ll have trouble keeping the appointment. Having this freedom (and having stern receptionists who reserve judgement) means that you’re more likely to have people turn up on the day or give you notice if they can’t make it.
• Remind your patients – in the lead up to their appointment, send reminders – plural! A text message is a great way for some people to remember their appointment, but consider automated calendar invites or email reminders as well. Simple initiatives like this should vastly reduce the no-shows who fall into the “I just forgot” basket.
• Monitor repeat offenders – habitual appointment breakers may need a more personal approach to reminders. Consider setting up alerts for when repeat offenders have an appointment the next day and make sure they are contacted to check that they’ve organised transport or that they still need the appointment. Adding this personal touch may make the patient reconsider skipping their appointment.
At the end of the day, you’re dealing with humans, some of whom may be quite ill; your approach to communicating with them should be considerate, caring and tailored. These tips will help you to up your skills so that the business runs smoothly and the patients are well cared for.
If you need to set benchmarks before putting these tips into action, contact us to talk about our patient flow technology.