Regardless of your philosophy, there’s one thing we can all agree on- patient no-shows are not good for business! Not only do you lose money on the patient visit, but they also create unexpected downtime for the therapist. Although you can’t completely eliminate this problem, there are ways you can reduce it. Here are 6 tips you can use to protect your physical therapy practice from the harmful effects of patient no-shows!
A good first step is to have a cancelation policy. For example, “Patients will be charged $25 dollars per visit if not cancelled within 24 hours of the appointment.” We recommend including your cancelation policy in the new patient paperwork that the patient signs before their first visit. When scheduling the patient’s first appointment, be sure not only to educate him or her on the specifics of your cancelation policy but also explain that by giving you at least 24 hours notice to cancel their appointment, you will be able to offer that appointment time to another patient who is waiting for an appointment. It’s also a good idea to post your cancelation policy at your front desk and include it on appointment cards and reminders.
We are all so busy these days, we all could use a little help reminding us of our appointments. Reminding patients a day or two ahead of their appointment is a great way to cut down on missed appointments. You could require that your front desk make all the patient reminder calls the day before, but depending on the workload and the number of front desk staff you have available this might not be feasible. Before you skip to the next paragraph, there is a more efficient way to get the job done. We recommend using an automated patient appointment reminder system. RevFlow is integrated with a system called ReminderCall.com. We send them your patient schedule and with that information they are able to call, send text messages, and emails to your patients about their next appointment. ReminderCall.com allows you to customize everything from languages, delivery dates, times and frequency. You remain in control of your appointment reminders all while unburdening your front desk and reducing no-show appointments.
Tracking and Reporting Cancellation Reasons
Tracking the reasons patients give when they cancel or reschedule an appointment can help you identify trends and find solutions. It’s also a good idea to look beyond just the reason the patient gave when they canceled the appointment but to also look for other appointment trends. For example, are most your missed or rescheduled appointments associated with a particular therapist, or referring physician? In RevFlow’s scheduler we allow you to customize your office’s cancelation reasons and have reporting that allows you to quickly spot trends and find ways to remedy these reasons.
With a packed schedule it can be challenging to get a patient in at the time they requested. Plan ahead and create a waitlist of patients who are able to come in on short notice for an appointment. Keep this list handy at the front desk and train staff to use it in a late cancellation or no-show situation. When the inevitable cancellation happens you might be able to fill the appointment with a patient on the waitlist. In RevFlow we have a waitlist tool right in the scheduler which makes it easy to fill open appointments and reduce unproductive downtime.
Consider overbooking your schedule when appropriate. Overbooking doesn’t have to mean double booking. Overbooking can mean shortening the time between visits or adding more visits to a certain time of day. Done well, overbooking can reduce the financial impact of no-show appointments but be aware it also create longer wait times which can be frustrating for patients. RevFlow scheduler allows for overbooking and also allows you to control the amount of overbooking you allow per appointment slot.
Lastly, providing a service to the patient that is of value will ultimately reduce the amount of cancellations and no-shows. Educate your staff, administrative and clinical, on the importance of customer service. Provide staff trainings on customer service techniques to ensure that your patients are receiving top-level customer service experience that will create a natural connection to the clinic and increase their loyalty to the service.