- On 28/05/2018
How often do last minute cancellations and patient no shows occur? There’s a considerable price tag associated when appointments fall through – from the support staff who must spend time following up with phone calls to the physicians who miss out on time that could have been spent with patients. For example, the Gladstone Hospital claims to have lost $630,000 in 12 months because of patient tardiness.
There are many factors that can result in an increase in missed appointments, such as: unavoidable emergencies, difficulty accessing the clinic via parking or public transport, or simply patients forgetting their appointments. Understanding the causes will help you to take action on practical measures to increase patient attendance and thereby improve patient outcomes.
Reduce patient no-shows by using these simple strategies:
1. Implement an appointment scheduling system that’s engineered for patient convenience. Your practice software needs to offer an intuitive digital booking system that makes it easy for someone to book, reschedule or cancel their appointments. This means support staff can spend less time on the phone locking in appointments. An intuitive practice software would also make it easier to let another patient know if an appointment has opened up for them.
2. Streamline patient information collection earlier in the process. Using secure practice software, patients can provide key documents and personal details beforehand. This streamlines onboarding, allowing patients to get to their appointments faster. Manual data entry of new patient data uses up precious time and can increase how long patients are left waiting.
3. Build an intuitive reminder system. Automation is an effective tool for improving patient attendance. Set up automated text or email reminders that send 24 to 48 hours before an appointment.
4. Communicate your practice policy around appointments. Emergencies happen. Communicating your policy on appointments is crucial for ensuring patients understand what to do in the case of a late cancellation. The aim is to incentivise attendance and discourage late cancellations.
5. Appreciate the ‘do-shows’. Encourage your support staff, particularly receptionists, to welcome and thank patients for being punctual. A warm and approachable smile is just one way to build an overall positive patient experience.
This blog article is contributed by Clinic to Cloud, one of AMA (NSW) Future Practice Panel Members.
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