It's estimated that no shows can cost the healthcare industry more than $150 billion a year.
To give you perspective: If a pediatric practice sees 100 patients a day at an average cost of $125, with a 13% no-show rate, the practice would lose $32,500 each month.
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) report shows no-show rates range on average from 1% to 28% (with that 13% in our example well within the range). This range varies little from specialty-to-specialty.
Calculate the Cost of No Shows
Take your average number of patients you see a month, multiply by your average no-show rate, and multiply that number by your average cost of an appointment.
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) suggests that practices can try the following tips to reduce no-show volume, and ultimately recover the lost costs.
Limit no shows by charging a percentage of the appointment fee or full appointment fee
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) found that just more than one-fourth of all responding practices charge a no show fee. Practices charge between $25 and $75 across all specialties. Find the cost that works for you. You may not make back the full cost lost if a no show occurs, but you may be able to cut the overall impact by charging a no show fee. Adding the fee aspect will encourage patients to be more mindful when scheduling and cancelling appointments.
Contacting patients in advance of their scheduled time
Contacting patients in advance of their scheduled time is crucial to improve the no show rate at your practice. With 50% of calls going to voicemail when staff is trying to reach patients, telephone calls may not be the best route. Secure messaging services has been shown to be a more efficient method of sending appointment reminders - directly to the patient’s cell. According to a report commissioned by SinglePoint, it was found that text message open rates exceed 99%, and even more shocking is that 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received on the mobile phone.
Plan ahead for no shows
Plan ahead in consideration of the potential for no shows in your practice. Have your staff schedule appointments within a reasonable time of the patient's call. The longer the lapse in time from the patient’s visit, the greater the chance of a no-show.
Another preparation tactic would be to develop a list of patients who are able to come in for short-notice appointments. When a no-show happens, these patients may be able to fill the empty spot.
Financial incentive (similar to the no show fee) works well in encourage appointment adherence. An alternative to the no show fee could be to allow patients to prepay for their next appointment, giving them an incentive to return.
Customize your strategy
Keep these tips in mind, but remember to customize your strategy that is unique to your practice and patients’ lifestyles. Work with your office manager and staff to see which areas could be improved upon. Ask your patients with a survey what would work for them to better keep and track their appointments.