Reduce Medical Appointment No-Shows Through Automated Scheduling

December 2nd, 2008

Your waiting room is full of patients reading magazines in anticipation of their name being called. Even though the waiting room is full, there are still no-shows. Every no-show slows down the rate at which you can see the patients that showed up because the medical receptionist holds out hope that the patient will eventually arrive. Despite your carefully worded and publicized cancellation policy, no-shows seem to be an inevitable fact of medical practice. Fortunately there are steps that you can take to control the problem.

The reasons that patients miss appointments are many. Studies done on the topic show that reasons range from lack of transportation, confusion about date and time, too sick to move, and simple memory lapse. Automated appointment scheduling cannot solve all of these reasons, but the right appointment reminder system can cut down on many of them.

Patients who forget their scheduled appointments are a source of poor medical service and revenue loss for clinics. Excessive patient no-shows directly impact nearly every level of medical care and office efficiency. Automated appointment scheduling is an easy solution to preventing medical no-shows and the wasted resources they create.

Patient Care

Continuity of care is greatly impacted with high no-show rates. When patients do not call to cancel an appointment or just forget to show up, many times a new appointment fails to be scheduled. Also, there tends to be a time lag in rescheduling that can negatively affect treatment plans. No-shows directly relate to longer wait times for the patients that did make their appointments. These patients get frustrated and possibly angry by the wait and this affects the medical interview and therefore treatment.

Automated telephone reminder services can reduce no-shows and cancellations. Self-service patient appointment scheduling will help encourage patients to reschedule their missed appointments. Adhering to treatment plans is vital to good health care. In a way, a good medical appointment scheduler will assist you in making and keeping your patients healthy.

Clinical Staffing

Productivity takes a hit when there are too many missed appointments. When your clinic appears to less busy than it should be there is an underestimation of your office staffing needs. When staff size is based on incorrect assumptions, patient care could suffer but your bottom line certainly will.

A patient appointment reminder service automatically contacts patients about when and where they need to be. Your staff is then freed up to handle any other clinical priorities. This takes away much of the chaos and confusion of botched appointment scheduling. With a steady flow of patients it is far easier to predict correct amount of staff required to operate your practice. As a bonus, the best of these web-based scheduling services will include multilingual capability, which can expand your practice.

Financials

As I mentioned, budget planning is very difficult with unanticipated no-shows. It’s almost impossible for you to accurately form a revenue projection with intermittent missed appointments. You might try to overbook in order to make up for the income that is lost from no-shows; however, if everyone then makes their appointments you are slammed and your patients are angry.

Quality 24/7 patient scheduling programs help control costs. This makes for more accurate revenue projections that keep your staff and office operations in the smooth, steady flow that enhances a success practice.

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