Patients who don’t show up for their appointments are a frustrating, expensive cost to your business, but thanks to new technology, tools are available to minimise the likelihood of no shows.
From offering telehealth solutions to digital appointment tools, you can limit no shows and help your clinic save money.
What are the main causes of no shows?
- The patient forgets the appointment
- The patient feels they no longer need the appointment
- Logistical issues make attending the appointment too difficult
- Financial concerns
Digital tools help mitigate these causes as the interaction with technology addresses everything from logistical challenges to forgetting the appointment. Here are the top 3 ways to minimise ‘no shows’ at your clinic:
1. Integrate Telehealth by offering Teleconference appointments
Teleconferencing has become a popular, effective and modern way many patients now interact with their health professionals. Whether you’re a GP, Specialist, Physiotherapist, OT, Dietician or Wellness Coach, offering appointments via video-conferencing is a clever way to minimise ‘no shows.’
Telehealth appointments help minimise logistical and financial concerns for patients. For busy parents managing young children or working from home, they save time and money by jumping on video-calling software for their appointment. No childcare or parking costs are required, and if the health professional is running late, the patient can jump on the call whenever the professional is ready, instead of wasting time in the waiting room.
The Oregon Health and Science University saved their patients $6.4 million annually in travel costs by offering a telemedicine program. One UPMC patient survey showed that 40% of their patients said if they did not have access to a virtual visit, they would skip the treatment because of the cost and logistic challenges associated with travel to their facilities.
In other words? Patients want to access healthcare without the cost of travel and waiting times, otherwise they might not show up! Teleconferencing is an effective solution.
2. Introduce online booking and appointment confirmations
Empowering patients by offering online booking tools and automated SMS-reminders has been shown to decrease ‘no shows.’ The popularity of online booking tools is growing, with one platform revealing over 9 million appointments were booked online in 2018 in Australia, a huge 35% increase on figures from 2017.
Online booking tools link to notifications to prevent no shows
Online booking tools make the booking process easier for patients, and can link directly to push notifications so they can’t forget the date and time. When your clinic uses integrated digital health platforms, your patients are automatically sent notifications when they book online. Plus, patients love the convenience of booking online.
“If I was to call I’m put on hold and rather than taking two minutes to do it, it then becomes a five to 10-minute job depending on the wait,” mother of two, Louise Pedreschi told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Online booking tools allow patients to book appointments after hours to boost booking numbers
Your reception staff work long hours, but they can’t always be manning the desk. Online booking tools allow patients to book appointments in the moment when they feel they really need it, rather than waiting for business hours. When a patient can’t sleep due to neck pain in the middle of the night, they can book their Physiotherapy appointment for the next day. This flexibility is what patients want, and the statistics reflect this trend. One online booking platform reported 60 percent of their appointments were made outside working hours.
SMS reminders minimise no shows
SMS reminders, and a clear ‘opt in’ strategy can help minimise ‘no shows,’ limiting them to just 1%. By sending a series of three or four SMS messages requiring patients to reply ‘YES’ to confirm or ‘NO’ to cancel an appointment they have booked, attendance rates have been shown to boost considerably.
By sending more than one confirmation message, patients are not only reminded about the appointment, but given the chance to reschedule if their commitments have suddenly changed. One Cochrane review showed “mobile phone text message reminders increase attendance at healthcare appointments compared to no reminders, or postal reminders.”
3. Let patients write their next appointment details themselves
Health innovations don’t always involve technology, and this strategy to minimise ‘no shows’ is exceptionally simple yet very effective.
When a patient approaches the front desk at the end of their appointment, one study found ‘no show’ appointments were reduced by a huge 18% when patients filled out their next appointment card by themselves. In today’s world, this can be as simple as asking patients to write down their own appointment details in their digital calendar on their phone, instead of filling out their ‘reminder card’ for them. Coupled with SMS reminders, this simple strategy can cause meaningful, noticeable change to no show figures at your clinic.
Health technology and the integration of powerful digital health tools in your clinic can transform your clinicians’ schedules and minimise ‘no shows.’ Not only do online booking tools and teleconferencing software make patients’ lives easier, they also help create a clear, cohesive and modern workplace for your employees. Fewer no shows means less frustration for employees, less hassle for reception staff and a more cost-effective clinic.
Instead of searching for numerous, stand-alone tools though, utilise these no show solutions by choosing a fully integrated digital health platform that offers multiple tools to help you run your clinic smoothly, like HotHealth.