by Allan Vinther
Are you tired of losing valuable time and money because patients aren’t showing up for their scheduled appointments? In healthcare, no-show rates can range as high as 80% due to numerous factors, including transportation barriers, concerns around a possible diagnosis, and simply forgetting about the appointment.
The average cost of a missed appointment is $200. Unlike a cancellation, where your clinic’s staff could fill the open slot with another patient, a no-show results in lost time and revenue, which can be very frustrating for your team. When people skip their appointment, it creates more administrative work for your staff and prevents other clients from taking that appointment slot.
A patient no-show refers to a missed appointment where the person was scheduled, did not come in for their appointment, and did not contact the clinic staff to cancel or reschedule their appointment.
How to Calculate Your No-Show Rate: Take the total number of patients that did not show up for their appointment and divide by the total number of scheduled appointments (if you remove appointments that no-show, be sure to add them back to calculate).
No-Show Rate = No-Shows / Scheduled Appointments
Luckily, we have some tips and tricks for audiology clinics to drastically reduce their no-show rates. Here are 7 ideas to implement in your clinic:
Ideas to Reduce No-Shows
- Increase communication. One important way to reduce customer no-show rates is to increase and improve communication with them. Be sure that each person knows when their next appointment is scheduled and that they have your address and accurate directions to get there. Make it easy and convenient for patients to contact your clinic – either by phone, email, or text – if they need to reschedule an upcoming appointment.
- Use automated appointment reminders. The healthcare industry’s adoption of tech tools and best practices that eliminate manual work (such as making phone calls to remind customers about upcoming appointments) have been shown to decrease no-show rates by more than 50%. Therefore, a simple – yet effective – way to reduce customer no-show rates is to send automated appointment reminders. Auditdata Manage allows shops to easily remind customers about upcoming appointments via SMS messages and emails. Clinics can customize the content of the messages, as well as the timing and frequency of the automated reminders. Leverage each customer’s preferred contact method – phone calls, emails, or texts – to boost show-up rates. Provide bidirectional text appointment reminders – meaning that customers can text you back – so customers can confirm or reschedule their appointment, get directions, and ask questions, as needed. The value is a higher show-up rate and time saved by automatic communication.
- Reduce the time between scheduling and the appointment. People are more likely to remember their appointments – and show up for them – if you reduce the time between making the appointment and the actual appointment date. Spending a long time waiting to be seen by your clinicians can be frustrating. If a patient’s wait time is very long, they might choose to be seen by another audiologist at a competing clinic and then not show up for their appointment at yours. Unfortunately, the problem can become a vicious cycle, as long wait times to see a clinician increases no-shows, and no-shows contribute to longer wait times for other clients. People can also change their minds if they have a long wait time before their appointment. If they have finally made the decision to get a hearing test and booked the appointment, a long waiting time may negatively impact their decision to get the screening. They may justify not showing up for their appointment, telling themselves “I don’t need it anyway.”
- Reassure nervous patients. Another valuable way to reduce no shows is to address your client’s fears. Some people may resist getting a hearing screening – even if they know they don’t hear properly – because they don’t want hearing aids. Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma around hearing loss and hearing aids, as some people fear that it makes them look old, weak, or even stupid. They may also worry that the hearing aids will be uncomfortable or look unattractive. Often, people are concerned about the perceived hassle of taking care of the hearing aids, thinking it will be too time-consuming or complex for them to handle. Fear and insecurities can drive no-show rates, so address client’s concerns to help ease their anxiety and increase the probability that they’ll show up for their appointment. Be sure that your staff is reassuring through every step of the patient journey, starting when they call to schedule their appointment. Encourage patients to bring a loved one with them to serve as additional support, especially if they’re anxious about their appointment.
- Have an official “no-show” policy. Develop a formal policy around missed appointments, and promote this policy via your website, social media, in-shop signage, as well as email and text reminders. Use a variety of delivery channels to communicate this policy so no one can claim they didn’t know the ramifications of not showing up for an appointment. It’s common to allow each client to miss one appointment with no consequences but then charge a “missed appointment fee” for any subsequent no- shows. Some clinics may charge a small fee, like $25, while others opt to charge the full appointment cost. Of course, you can make exceptions for illness, severe weather, and emergencies.
- Minimize waiting times at your clinic. Busy clients want to get in and get out. If your clinic habitually makes people endure long waits (30 minutes or more) before their appointments, they may opt-out of future appointments. If patients believe that you don’t value their time, they’re less likely to value yours. They could be a no-show for future appointments, or worse, the no-show will turn into a lost patient. In fact, 89 percent of people will purchase from a competitor following a poor experience. Use Auditdata Manage to optimize your schedule, keep clinicians on track, and minimize patient wait times.
- Develop strong patient relationships. Happy, satisfied patients are more loyal patients, who will be more committed to your clinic, and more likely to recommend you to their loved ones. Build strong relationships by providing personalized service, high-quality care, and innovative hearing aids and accessories. You can also improve those relationships with ongoing communication. Send birthday and holiday cards to your patients. Automate thank you messages after their appointments, reiterating how much you appreciate their business. Provide automated care tips for their hearing aids, such as how to clean and store the devices, in the weeks after they purchase. Periodically send clinic news, such as a new clinician joining your staff, a new location opening, or amazing new products that you carry. Use Manage to track details about each patient beyond their hearing diagnosis or hearing aid measurements. Record information about their families, hobbies, or interests so your clinicians can personalize conversations and hearing goals during upcoming appointments, making each patient feel unique and valued. When patients feel like they’re getting exceptional care and personalized service, they’re more likely to show up for their appointments.
If you’d like to learn more about how Auditdata Manage can help boost key performance indicators (KPIs) for your shop, contact us for a live demo. This is a great way to see what our solutions can do to improve your clinical care ear by ear and drive performance and growth, from reducing no-show appointments to improving scheduling, reporting, invoicing, and more.
Auditdata helps hearing care providers improve clinical care and drive their business performance and growth. With our data-driven, connected solutions we cater to customers in all stages of the hearing care lifecycle, from attracting new prospects to providing the most appropriate solutions to treat each customer’s hearing loss. We work with hearing care professionals to improve hearing, ear by ear. For more information about Auditdata’s integrated, intuitive, user-friendly tech solutions for audiology shops, please contact us.
About the Author
Allan Vinther is head for Presales and Business Development at Auditdata. His mission is to deliver good clinical outcomes and commercial growth for our clients. When he is off-duty, Allan can be found scaling walls, biking, and spending time with his family.