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How to Prevent Lost Appointments

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How to Prevent Lost Appointments
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Your practice’s growth depends on a full schedule and patients that actually honor their appointments. The reality is, lost appointments are all too common — and all too costly. In fact, studies have found that no-shows alone cost the healthcare system more than $150 billion a year, with individual physicians losing $200 on average for each empty time slot. 

And that’s just missed appointments. What about appointments that were never booked in the first place because potential patients couldn’t easily schedule one? 

Lost appointments — including no-shows and never-scheduled — quickly translate to lost revenue. Fortunately, you can prevent them from happening in the first place. To help, here are 9 ways medical practices limit lost appointments.

  1. Make it easier for patients to schedule appointments: Lost appointments often happen because it’s inconvenient for patients to schedule them. In fact, 77% of patients want to be able to book, change, or cancel appointments online; 60% of patients hang up the phone after waiting on hold for more than 60 seconds; and patients spend 8.1 min on average scheduling an appointment by phone. Needless to say, patients (and potential patients) want scheduling convenience that doesn’t rely solely on phones. Let them text you or schedule online.
  2. Send automated appointment reminders: Forget unreliable phone reminders and send automated text reminder sequences to your patients. Customize them by appointment type, provider, and location. 
  3. Improve the patient experience: If you create a stellar patient experience — one that focuses on convenience and personalized care — they’ll be more inclined to show up to their appointments.  
  4. Implement a no-show policy: Some medical practices charge a nominal fee — usually between $20- $40 — for missed appointments. If you decide to implement one, make sure your patients are aware. You can hang signs in your waiting room, include it as part of your patient intake forms, tell patients when they book appointments, etc.
  5. Confirm patient contact information for reminders: When a patient schedules an appointment, make a point to specifically ask what contact information is best for appointment reminders.
  6. Double book appointment slots: If you notice a pattern of the same patients repeatedly missing appointments, consider double booking their time slots.
  7. Restrict appointment scheduling: Some practices restrict appointment scheduling to same day or one-day ahead for patients that are often no-shows.
  8. Offer prepaid appointments: Offer patients a discount if they pay for an appointment up front. After all, if they’ve already paid, they’ll be more likely to show up.
  9. Follow-up with no-shows: Encourage no-shows to reschedule their appointments, and make it easy for them to do so.

The reality is, you can’t eliminate lost appointments forever, but you can encourage your patients to show up — or at least reschedule if they can’t make it. And you can do so without adding more manual work for your staff. Klara can help. Get started here.

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Miranda Eifler

Freelance content writer with nearly 20 years of experience creating content and copy that convert. She specializes in blog posts, white papers, and email copy for B2B tech companies and small business service providers. When she’s not helping her clients, you can find her at her home in the suburbs of New York, trail running with her husband, or trying to keep up with her three young children.

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Lost appointments are lost revenue. Never lose a scheduling opportunity again.
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