Smart Steps to Reduce No Shows and Cancellations
What is one of the main problems that prevents your physical therapy practice from running smoothly? For many offices, that issue is no shows, when patients who are scheduled for an appointment do not keep it without notifying the office beforehand. Appointment cancellations can wreak havoc on your schedule and inconvenience both your other patients who need to be seen and your therapists who want to help them. These helpful tips to lessen no shows can get your office back in motion.
A good place to start is with better scheduling practices. While you want a full schedule, you should also avoid overbooking, which can add to patient wait times as well as overall stress for your therapists and support staff. Instead, aim for a full schedule with adequate time to account for individual patient needs. You can even outsource scheduling or invest in better software to take the pressure off your staff.
Master the Reminder
Patients may miss their appointments because they forget when they are scheduled. Have a system for appointment reminders to decrease no shows. Traditional phone call reminders are still a popular option, especially for older patients who may not be as well-versed in more modern forms of communication. You may prefer to use email or text message reminders, which can also be convenient and require less staff time. You can also give patients reminder cards or printouts of upcoming appointments when they check out, so they can update their personal calendars before they leave your office. You can concentrate your efforts on one method or employ a few, but consistency is important.
Craft a Policy
Another common strategy to prevent appointment cancellations is a written no-show policy. Establish a protocol and notify patients when they complete their paperwork so that they understand that they may be a fee for missing an appointment. You may also want to allow for prepayment; patients who have already paid for their services are less likely to skip appointments.
Start a List
How many times have patients asked your front office staff about a cancellation list? Maintaining a list is a no-brainer; just create a list of patients and their contact information so you can fill any holes in your schedule created by appointment cancellations. It can solve keep your therapists busy while providing visits for patients who are waiting to be seen.
Offer a Payment Plan
You may not realize it, but some patients don’t show up for their appointments because they are unable to afford the on-going expense of physical therapy. They may have hefty deductibles to meet or other insurance hassles that can add to the financial difficulty of keeping their therapy visits. If your practice has a payment plan or takes a specialized healthcare credit program, you may relieve some of the upfront financial obligations that act as a barrier for some patients.
With these minor tweaks in office policy, you can overcome the problem of no shows that impact your productivity. Encourage your front office staff to update contact information with every check-in and make some of these changes to reduce appointment cancellations and improve morale and patient satisfaction. Have questions or want a second set of eyes on your processes? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org