You scheduled a patient for an upcoming appointment, but what are the chances that they’ll actually go? It’s common for an average healthcare clinic to see a combined cancellation or no-show rate between 5-15%. Any higher than this, and your clinic could be facing revenue problems.
Besides losing a consistent source of revenue, you have to spend time and money establishing connections with new patients.
Having a high patient retention rate is the key for your clinic to thrive and profit, whether it’s a physical therapy clinic, dermatology practice, or other types of clinic. To do that, here are some best practices for reducing cancellations and no-shows.
Confirm next appointment details
Confirming the details of your patient’s appointment is a simple but effective way to make sure that both you and the patient are on the same page. It can be easy to forget important information like the time and date of the appointment when you become busy with other matters.
Make it a standard practice for your receptionists to always confirm the next one to two appointments while you have the patient’s face to face attention. However, this can become difficult to get done if your receptionist forgets, or is busy with another patient. Consider using WelcomeWare to ensure an always-ready front desk that features a live streaming receptionist that can confirm next appointments as well as handle patient check-in online.To supplement the in-clinic confirmation, consider text, email, and phone reminders.
Create and reinforce a cancellation policy
Your clinic needs to establish a cancellation policy to discourage patients from cancelling at the last minute. This allows you to protect yourself from financial loss while also encouraging patients to come to their appointments.
A common example is opting for a 24 or 48-hour cancellation notice. This gives a clinic time to schedule a new appointment for someone who may be on a waitlist.
It’s important to be gentle with your approach in reminding your patients about the policy. Here are a few ways you can enforce your no-cancellation policy:
- Have your receptionists briefly introduce the policy while scheduling the appointment.
- Set your EMR’s automated appointment reminders to notify patients about the policy again.
This way, you’ll give your patients enough time and information to reschedule.
Manage and set treatment expectations
The fastest way to lose clients is failing to live up to their expectations. Patients in occupational or physical therapy clinics sometimes aspire to unrealistic goals for their treatment, which may lead to disappointment.
Thus, it is critical for your providers to set realistic goals and communicate them with your clients. Whoever schedules the appointments in your facility can also help you by understanding the processes that are unique to your clinic.
By managing their expectations, it will help the patient understand the importance of coming to all their appointments.
Coordinate between the front desk and the provider
Typically receptionists are responsible for communicating with patients for scheduling appointments. However both the front desk and providers have to work together to make sure that they schedule each patient’s appointment properly.
Correctly scheduling appointments is a base expectation for your patients. Mistakes create doubt in the competence of your clinic. At worst, instead of rescheduling, they’ll simply cancel and look for other clinics.
Provider preferences vary, and thus it is critical that your front desk team knows how you like to schedule appointments and handle check-ins. Communication is the key to retaining patients for your clinic, and it begins with your front desk. With WelcomeWare, you can convert your current front desk into a live-streaming receptionist who will always be available. This will help you decrease the likelihood of cancellations and no-shows.