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A ‘Don’t Do’ List to avoid patient no-shows

A ‘Don’t Do’ List to avoid patient no-shows
21 August 2015

Patient no-show is same as getting stood up. However, the difference is no-shows result in loss of practice money, instead of the waste of time. Estimates indicate that patient no-shows cost $150,000 per year for an individual physician. When the cost is put together for the system as a whole the amount is more than $150 billion. These figures show why it is important to take measures to decrease the number of patient no-shows.

While trying to decrease patient no-shows, there are few things you don’t want to do. Doing it the wrong way can make things worse and damage the existing rapport with your patients.


  • Delay Appointments: Do not delay appointment from the time and the date already set.
  • Disregard Patient Convenience: Instead of assigning appointment to patients, ask for a time convenient for the patient to come in. Enable your patients to book appointments through mobile apps or website according to their convenience.
  • Depend only on reminder phone calls: Different patients prefer different mode of communication. If a patient prefers appointment reminder only by email or text message, do the same instead of sticking to phone calls.
  • Use different methods of reminder: Remind patients only using their preferred method.
  • Send reminders through postcard: No one prefers a slow method of communication. It does not help to avoid no-shows.
  • Overbook appointments: Long waiting period can lead to no-shows in the future
  • Practice a weak no-show policy: Display no-show policy in a highly visible place. Make sure it has points to note the consequences of not showing up.
  • Be strict with no-show fees: Charge no-show fees only after a couple of warnings. The fees should not be exorbitant; otherwise you are likely to lose the patient.
  • Ignore transportation problems: If the road is shut down to your area or if public transportation is not available, do not schedule appointments.
  • Follow-up without a reason: Always document the reason for no-shows. This allows you to follow the general trend of no-shows that can be fixed for future appointments.
  • Fail to appreciate do-shows: Appreciate do-shows for showing up as scheduled. This would encourage the patient to show up for the next appointment on time.

Though it is challenging to decrease no-shows, your efforts will pay off in the long run.