Increase Revenue by Putting No-Shows on Notice with Defined Policies

March 1, 2019

Get patient’s signature on any practice no-show policy. There are no cut-and-dried policies for patients that don’t show up for appointments. Your practice’s rules should depend on your patient population and practice culture; these factors will be the ultimate decider when it comes to your no-show policies.

You can, however, count on the following advice when shaping your policy, and making it flexible enough to accommodate occasional no-shows while being tough with repeat offenders.

Formulate Policy, Get Patients to Sign on Dotted Line

The first step in protecting your practice against no-shows is a written policy. You need a clear and concise policy explaining to patients what your requirements and expectations are for no-shows and cancellations. The policy should be firm but fair.

You should be flexible in situations that are beyond the patient’s control, such as a family death or an illness that prevents timely notification. And once you have a defined no-show policy in place, you should have patients acknowledge they have read it by signing a notification form.

Give Patients a Pass on First Offense

In order to maintain positive patient relations, I would recommend you let a patient slide on their first no-show. Charging should be used after the second no-show, not the primary offense. While I would recommend a little wiggle room for the first-time no-show, I would also recommend an insurance policy against repeat offenders.

I also recommend a pre-charge – if the patient makes a second appointment, after their first no-show. In other words, if a patient makes a second appointment, you would require a deposit. This is a flexible policy, however. Some practices use this pre-charge on a third offense.

Get 24-Hour No-Shows to Reschedule

One popular policy for handing no-show patients is letting them avoid penalties if they reschedule and keep their next appointment. This is a good practice if you have the policy in writing and the patient has signed off on this policy. When a patient follows your written policy by giving 24-hour notice, staff should make every effort to reschedule the patient while they have the patient on the phone. Taking care of the re-scheduling as soon as possible helps avoid gaps in patient care, as well as lost revenue.

Look for Longer Notice in Certain Situations

While the 24-hour rule is a good one to follow for most medical practices, there are some exceptions to that rule. Due to the nature of the services they provide, there may be some sub-specialties that require more advance notice, such as surgery, imaging, etc. For these practices, a 48-hour or even a 72-hour rule might be more effective. There are some practices that are so specialized that appointments are set up weeks, if not months, in advance. In these instances, you might have to make adjustments to the 24-hour rule in order to maximize your practice’s time.

Inform the Patient

No matter what your no-show policy looks like, you should include an explanation of it in the new patient packet that most practices give out to new patients. Include your no-show policy in new patient packets, and have patients sign an acknowledgement form stating they understand the consequences of abusing cancellations and no-shows. If practice culture allows for it, I would recommend a small, tasteful sign repeating the no-show policy at the check-in window.

Previous post:

Next post: