Patient no-shows and cancellations are a perennial problem for any healthcare facility or medical practice. According to a survey, nearly 42% of patients skip their appointments, while 23% may only show up if reminded about their appointment. While it is relatively common, it is still incredibly frustrating when a patient fails to show up or cancels an appointment at the eleventh hour after you have scheduled and prepared for an appointment.
According to an Oct. 3 MGMA Stat poll, patients not showing up for appointments and not being able to see all the patients who want to be seen rank as two of the top challenges healthcare providers face with appointments. 44% of respondents said patient no-shows are the biggest challenge in their practice. The healthcare industry loses about $150 billion annually due to patient no-shows and appointment cancellations.
While it is easy to blame patients for no-shows and appointment cancellations, the reasons are much more complex, with the obvious one being financial. When your patients find out the amount needed for their healthcare, it may seem expensive to them. Also, some patients get discouraged by the long wait times at healthcare facilities.
Fortunately, appointment cancellations and no-shows are controllable once you establish why you have them. An answering service can be crucial in reducing these issues by helping with appointment reminders and making timely follow-ups for patient satisfaction.
If you are considering hiring a medical answering service to help you reduce patient no-shows and appointment cancellations, you have come to the right place. This article will discuss the impact of patient no-shows and appointment cancellations and how a medical answering service can help reduce them. Keep reading to learn more.
The Impact of No-Shows and Cancellations on Medical Practices
A high rate of appointment cancellations and patient no-shows is detrimental to your medical practice’s return on investment and your patient’s health. When your patients miss appointments, they miss essential checkups and treatments, which can harm your healthcare practice if they select other providers for their care. On average, a healthcare provider loses about $200 each time a patient fails to attend a scheduled appointment.
Patient no-shows and late appointment cancellations can hurt the day-to-day operations of your medical practice. Healthcare providers lose valuable time whenever a patient fails to show up after scheduling an appointment. While it may sound “fine,” in a world where time is money, a missed appointment can be more than an inconvenience.
If left unchecked, patient no-shows and cancellations can interrupt existing appointment schedules and strain your staff’s mental health. Healthcare providers allocate resources and time to accommodate scheduled appointments, and when patients fail to show up, it can lead to gaps in the schedule or idle time for providers.
Missed appointments can also pose serious health complications to your patients. When your patients miss a healthcare appointment, they might miss an opportunity to treat or detect a condition early enough, exposing them to serious health risks. It can also lead to fragmented care, as rescheduling appointments can be challenging, and patients may receive healthcare services from different providers or locations.
If you want to run a successful medical practice, you will want to reduce the number of no-shows and appointment cancellations that leave your schedule with gaping holes, making it challenging to meet numbers. When you reduce patient no-shows, you will maintain a smooth workflow and ensure your patients receive timely and continuous medical care. You will also improve their access to healthcare services.
How a Medical Answering Service Can Reduce No-Shows
The following are ways in which a medical answering service can reduce patient no-shows and appointment cancellations.
Data from Athena Health suggests that prospective patients are more likely to cancel their first-time appointment if it is scheduled too far out. One of the best ways to reduce patient no-shows and appointment cancellations is to offer flexibility in appointment scheduling. When an appointment falls easily into a patient’s schedule, they will find it easier to keep up with it.
Flexibility in appointment scheduling can be achieved by keeping more appointment slots open and fully staffing your practice. However, this may not be possible, especially if you run a small medical practice. A medical answering service is vital in helping healthcare providers schedule appointments.
Medical answering services employ professional, highly trained virtual receptionists who can take the time to educate patients about the value of their health. They provide 24/7 customer service and ensure patients can call and schedule appointments anytime. Whether your patients want to schedule an appointment on a holiday, weekend, or night, a virtual receptionist will be available to help them.
Virtual receptionists can efficiently manage all phone calls related to appointment scheduling by gathering crucial information from callers, such as their contact details, name, preferred time and date, and reason for their appointment. Complete and accurate information allows for more effective appointment scheduling. To prevent double bookings, they can integrate with your scheduling system to access your availability and schedule appointments accordingly.
A medical answering service allows patients to schedule appointments through their preferred methods, such as live chat, email, and text messages. This enhances flexibility and convenience. In addition, a medical answering service can improve accessibility and patient satisfaction during appointment scheduling by offering multilingual support to accommodate non-English speakers.
Reminders and Follow-Up
One of the most effective ways to ensure your patients remember their upcoming appointments is by sending them appointment reminders. When you send appointment reminders to your patients, they will remember their appointments and arrive on time. You will want to know their preferred method of contact – whether they prefer a text message, a phone call, or an email.
A medical answering service can help reduce no-shows by sending personalized appointment reminders. This can improve the relationship between the healthcare provider and patients. Reminders can reinforce the importance of the scheduled appointment. Your patients may face distractions, so reminders can help prioritize their healthcare needs.
An answering service can make follow-up calls to patients who have a history of frequent cancellations or those who have missed previous appointments. They will try to find out why they missed their appointments, address any barriers or concerns, and provide help in rescheduling. Also, they will use follow-up calls to identify potential issues that might prevent patients from attending appointments, stopping no-shows and cancellations before they occur.
Efficient Handling of Cancellations and Rescheduling
As a professional healthcare provider, you know that your patients can get caught up in commitments and emergencies that can prevent them from showing up. While you can’t control all of these situations, you should get ahead of them by allowing your patients to reschedule their appointments.
A medical answering service has trained operators who can manage cancellations promptly and help patients reschedule appointments to maintain a full schedule. When you fill gaps left by cancellations, you ensure more efficient use of your time and resources. It also helps you offer convenient alternatives to your patients.
Managing cancellations and efficiently rescheduling appointments y increases patient satisfaction by demonstrating a commitment to patient care and responsiveness. Your patients will appreciate your proactive approach of promptly handling their concerns and requests. Also, reducing gaps in the schedule and maximizing appointment availability can ensure efficient workflow and help minimize revenue loss.
Why Choose Always Answer?
A medical answering service can help reduce patient no-shows by assisting with appointment scheduling and sending appointment reminders. Trained operators can manage cancellations promptly and assist with rescheduling to maintain a full schedule.
Always Answer is the best option for a reliable medical answering service. Our professional receptionists have expertise in appointment scheduling and will help you reduce patient no-shows and appointment cancellations. Learn how we can help with appointment scheduling and other medical answering services. For any questions, contact us; we will gladly help you.