We often hear that no-shows are disruptive to practices and are asked for advice on how to approach the problem and implement process improvements.
To help answer that question, I turned to our affiliate Airto Zamorano, CEO and Co-Founder of Numana Medical, a healthcare consulting and medical marketing agency, and Numana SEO, a digital marketing agency.
Eva: What is a normal amount of no-shows? How do I know what’s an excessive number of no-shows?
Airto: If you have a no-show rate of 10% or lower, I feel you’re in the normal range, but I would try to continue to improve and strive for 5% or lower.
If you have a no-show rate of over 10%, I am more worried that there is an issue that needs to be addressed within your practice.
Eva: How many times should a practice attempt to confirm an appointment before canceling it?
Airto: You should make three attempts to confirm an appointment, and then open up the spot in your schedule if the patient fails to confirm.
Eva: What’s the best method for confirming appointments? Are there tools or software you like that make it easy to remind people?
Airto: Patients prefer text message reminders, making them the most effective type of reminder for a practice to utilize. I also recommend sending an email reminder along with a text message to cover your bases.
Regarding text message reminders, you will want to make sure you’re HIPAA compliant when utilizing text messaging communications with patients.
Text messages are most impactful because they can easily be read and replied to without interfering with a patient’s day. Phone calls can only be confirmed in real time, and if they listen to voicemail they are unable to take any action within the message itself. They have to be in a position to call back during business hours, so calls are not as effective as text or email.
Email is also less effective than text messages because we all get bombarded with emails, and many emails go to the spam folder. With that said, emails are effective, but text messages are more effective.
There are software solutions to help you with appointment reminders, such as Simple Interact, which effectively automates a portion of your front office operations.
As an aside, your confirmation rate should be at least 60% or greater. If you’re confirming less than that, you need to identify the internal issue that is holding you back.
Eva: What’s the best way to ask for a credit card number to hold an appointment?
Airto: The best way to ask for a credit card is to ask the question confidently without hesitation. If you make the patient feel like this is normal, and that everyone does it, then they are more likely to give you their credit card without reservation.
It is important that you have a defined script that presents the request for a credit card with wording that gives the patient confidence.
Within this script, you want to ask questions that get a series of confirmations and agreements so that when you ask for the appointment and the credit card information, they’re already in an agreeable mindset.
Eva: Do no-shows affect practices that charge consultation fees more or less?
Airto: Each practice will have its own unique challenges. More established practitioners who have a full schedule can confidently charge a consultation fee, whereas less established practitioners may want to focus more on filling their schedule with opportunities — and not charge a consultation fee — until they become more established.
Overall, I see consultation fees as less significant from a revenue perspective. They’re more about weeding out less committed patients, and placing a value on the provider’s time.
Eva: Do certain types of patients no-show more than others?
Airto: In my experience, patients who are less engaged from the first contact are the ones who are most likely to no-show.
If it seems too easy to get someone to agree to come into your office, that’s your first warning sign. At that point, I’d recommend you dig in with more questions to open them up within the conversation.
Thanks to Airto for sharing his expertise on how to minimize no-shows! For more tips on how to make the most of your inquiries, check out these other posts:
- How This Practice Manages Hundreds of Weekly Patient and Prospect Follow-Ups
- 4 Steps to Maximizing Non-Consultation Inquiries
- 8 Free Ways to Get More High-Potential Consultations on RealSelf
Airto Zamorano is the CEO and Co-Founder of Numana Medical, a healthcare consulting and medical marketing agency, and Numana SEO, a digital marketing agency. Prior to launching his own companies, he was the CEO for a nine-location multi-specialty medical practice, and two facial plastic surgery practices.
Before starting his own businesses, Airto was the CEO for a nine-location multi-specialty medical practice, and two facial plastic surgery practices. Now he works with practice leaders across the country to help them improve their internal operations and increase productivity while making the most of their marketing efforts.