How to Stop Those Money-Draining No-Shows

Shelly Reese


November 20, 2012

In This Article

How to Tackle the Problem of Forgotten Appointments

Obviously, the best way to help a patient keep an appointment is to remind them that they have one.Reminder calls can be opportunities.

Reminder phone calls -- either live or automated -- or emails if your patients prefer them are an absolute must. Although a study published in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Medicine[1] found that patients who received a live call rather than a recorded reminder were less likely to miss their appointments -- 13.6% compared with 17.3% -- having staffers make calls can be challenging.

The calls eat up staff time and can be neglected during a busy day. What's more, because staffers generally make the calls during business hours, they're often forced to leave messages. By contrast, automated calls can be made in the evening, when people are more likely to be home, and they provide an opportunity for patients to cancel their appointments by simply pushing a button.

Despite the challenges, Stratman favors the live call because it enables a practice staff member to establish a personal connection. "If a staff member making a reminder call asks, 'Does that time still work for you?' they're inviting the patient to join in a conversation," she says. "It takes another 45 seconds, but it works."

The same holds true when a staffer schedules an appointment, she says. "Saying, 'We really need you to come back. Is this something you can make work?' makes a big difference. When patients see you as their advocate, they respond. Your big picture strategy needs to really show patients that you care."