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Appointment Reminder Phone Calls to Reduce Patient No-Shows

Why Are No-Show Policies with Appointment Reminder Phone Calls Important? 

In some patients’ minds, missing a medical or healthcare appointment might seem inconsequential, but it significantly impacts their treatments and the practitioner’s business. Sometimes, all it takes is a few appointment reminder phone calls to avoid this inconvenience, included in a more comprehensive no-show policy. 

According to a reputable study, “The negative impacts of high no-shows (…) include a discontinued care process, longer waiting time for appointments, and higher (sometimes inappropriate) admissions to Emergency Room (ER) services. An inappropriate admission to an ER can drive medical expenses up as ER services are more expensive and provide little preventative care. Furthermore, missing a scheduled appointment causes a minimized access for other patients, this can create dissatisfaction among patients and healthcare providers, and suboptimal care results.”

The same report explains that excessive no-show rates harm patients and lead to hospital revenue and profit loss. This inefficiency also results in longer waiting times for outpatients and creates an inefficient scheduling system. No-show rates of 12% can result in a gross loss of $89,107 for a laboratory annually. On the contrary, reducing the no-show rate to 5% will increase revenue by over $50,000. 

Practitioners and their administrative staff can improve efficiencies, help patients, and recover revenue by implementing simple recommendations and measures. Perhaps you can shorten the wait time between the actual appointment and the scheduled appointment. 

Another helpful tactic is to add automated reminders (such as SMS text messages or automatic phone reminders) to align patient behavior. As stated in earlier studies, telephone reminders alone were able to reduce no-shows from 20.99% to 7.07%.

However, it is best to implement a more comprehensive but straightforward no-show policy to gather enough clauses to cover cancellations and no-shows in the most likely scenarios.

Related: Benefits of a Virtual Phone System for Businesses and Remote Employees

Frequently Used No-Show Policies

No-show policies define the set of guidelines, rules, and sanctions a practice implements to deal with patients who intentionally or inadvertently do not show up for an appointment. Creating this policy will encourage your patients to keep appointments and curb the adverse impact no-shows will have on your business. 

It’s essential to add convenience to your patients’ schedules with a good policy. Among patients who could choose between doctors with similar experience, proximity, availability, and patient satisfaction scores, 80% said they would switch providers based on convenience factors alone.

Here are a few frequently used no-show measures you can pick and choose from to add them to your policy:

1) Reward showing up

It may be beneficial for you to compensate patients who come to their appointments on time and keep them. For example, the office can give away a gift card or another prize every week to patients who keep up with their appointments.

2) Implement a refundable no-show fee

If the patient fails to show up, they will see a small fee on their bill. If the patient arrives on time and they reschedule the appointment, you can refund the cost.

 3) Charge a non-refundable no-show fee

As a more strict alternative, for each appointment the patient misses or for every minute they are overdue for that appointment, they must pay a fee you will not refund. 

4) Ensure a cancellation period

In order to secure the integrity of your practice, you should provide your patients with reasonable timeframes for cancellations or rescheduling. Utilizing appointment scheduling software can help you accomplish this. This measure lets patients cancel or postpone an appointment up to a certain amount of hours before the visit.

Related: How to Choose the Right Virtual Phone System for Your Business

No-Show Policy Example

Taken from an expert practitioner’s portal, here you can find an explained template to build your own no-show policy. You can implement it via an online form or on paper in your office.

Introduction – Explain the reason behind the policy

Offer a polite but clear explanation as to why you are implementing the policy.

We schedule our appointments so that each patient receives the right amount of time to be seen by our physicians and staff. That’s why it is very important that you keep your scheduled appointment with us and arrive on time.

Consent – Warn about appointment reminder calls, texts, and emails

Let the patient know they gave you personal contact information, and you will use it to send automated appointment reminder phone calls, SMS text messages, and emails.

Example: As a courtesy and to help patients remember their scheduled appointments, [Practice Name] sends a text message and email reminders five days, two days, and 3 hours in advance of the appointment time.

Alternatives – Provide ways to contact you in case of a cancellation

Unexpected things do happen. Offer your understanding with flexible options to cancel or reschedule.

Example: If your schedule changes and you cannot keep your appointment, please contact us to reschedule you and accommodate those patients who are waiting for an appointment. As a courtesy to our office and those patients waiting to schedule with the physician, please give us at least 24 hours’ notice.

Repercussions – Explain what happens if they don’t show up

Your patient must be aware of all the consequences they must assume if they don’t comply with your policy.

Example: If you do not cancel or reschedule your appointment with at least 24 hours’ notice, we may assess a $_____ [INSERT YOUR FEE] “no-show” service charge to your account. This “no-show charge” is not reimbursable by your insurance company. You will be billed directly for it. After three consecutive no-shows to your appointment, our practice may decide to terminate its relationship with you.

Agreement – Ensure your patient is fully aware of this policy

Reinforce what you explained in the introduction and add other relevant information.

Example: I understand the “no-show” policy of [PRACTICE NAME] and agree to provide a credit card number, which may be charged $_____ [INSERT YOUR FEE] for any no-show of a scheduled appointment. I understand that I must cancel or reschedule an appointment at least 24 hours in advance to avoid a potential no-show charge to the credit card provided.

How to Find the Best Appointment Reminder Phone Call Provider

You can save time, increase productivity, and grow revenue by finding a trusted provider to automatically generate your appointment reminder phone calls. Furthermore, you should look for a carrier that uses copper landlines rather than VoIP to ensure the service offers high quality, no packet loss, no latency, and no background noise. As a result, your appointment reminder phone calls will play immediately with no delay that could cause the recipient to hang up. Your message will be crisp, with a much higher degree of accuracy when it comes to delivery to voicemail than VoIP providers.

Other features you should consider are:

1) Automated text and voice messages to eliminate the hassle of sending manual appointment reminders and reduce labor costs.

2) Personalized reminder messages with text to speech technology or by uploading a pre-recorded message.

3) Customizable templates to enable you to craft messages for individual recipients.

4) Integration abilities to sync with your calendars, such as Google Calendar or Outlook, and streamline appointment reminders.

5) Appointment confirmation capabilities to provide recipients the opportunity to respond with a text message or phone call by keypress.

6) Real-time reports to track when patients confirm, cancel, or reschedule appointments.

Are you too busy or lack the expertise and resources to contact your patients to remind them of their appointments? Our team of experts at VoiceShot can help you set up automated appointment reminder phone calls in minutes. Select the integration option that fits you best when signing up to simplify your process.

For over 20 years, VoiceShot’s voice call and text appointment reminder solutions have helped thousands of small and medium-sized businesses. Like them, you can schedule appointments and integrate with popular calendar applications like Google Calendar and Outlook to simplify healthcare session reminders and eliminate manual tasks. Sign up now.