Six strategies for reducing patient no-shows

Patient no-shows aren’t just frustrating, they cost you time and money. Every practice would love to reduce no-shows, but the big question is, how? We’ve put together six practical tips you can use to discourage and reduce your number of no-shows.

1. Ownership

It’s important for patients to feel some responsibility in keeping their appointment. Having them sign a written no-show policy is a way to create a greater sense of ownership. You can also consider charging for no-shows and same-day cancelations, unless it’s an emergency, of course. Requiring a signed notice is a smart way to ensure your patients are informed of the policy and will help avoid confrontation if it’s enforced.

2. Transportation

Do you have any helpful information regarding public transportation? Maybe the bus route changes on certain days or there’s a special event in town that will impact traffic. Try not to schedule your imaging on the days it is difficult for patients that take public transportation to your office. It’s also helpful to have contact information for alternate forms of transportation, such as Uber or a taxi service should a patient’s ride fall through.

3. Education

Nuclear imaging patients need to clearly understand, in advance of the appointment, that the materials used for their test are individually ordered and that they must be used within a specific window. Patients need to understand that the isotope cannot be used on the next patient and will expire if they miss their appointment.

4. Say Thanks

A good way to reduce no-shows is to encourage the behavior you want and then reward it. A monthly gift card drawing for patients who kept their appointments is a simple way to say thanks. Also, don’t forget to thank patients who reschedule in advance of your no-show policy.

5. Timeliness

Work towards accurate scheduling so patients aren’t experiencing extra long wait times. When patients believe the practice doesn’t value their time, they will not value yours. Emergencies happen, “work-ins” are sometimes necessary, but be sure you make every effort to stay on time. Running too far behind? Consider calling patients to explain and asking them to come in 30 minutes later. They may be able to stay at work a little longer or run a quick errand.

6. Follow Trends

It’s critical to track the reasons patients offer for canceling an appointment. Spotting trends in the reasons provided can help you find ways to fix the no-shows. It could be tracked down to a particular insurance carrier, a day of the week, or physician. Identifying this information can impact your bottom line.

Bonus tip:

Explore new ways to notify and remind your patients with tools like texting or e-mailing appointment reminders. Utilizing the technology your patients interface with every day is a sure-fire way to reach them.


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