How to Reduce Patient No-Shows

If someone doesn’t show up for their appointment at your practice, do you call to find out the problem or remind them about it? If you are like most owners, your answer is yes.

However, if patients aren’t showing up for their appointments after scheduling, it can be problematic. If you don’t remind them, your no-show rate can go as high as 10 percent.

Scheduling appointments are what keeps medical practices open. Therefore when patients are not showing up, it can cause a breakdown in the system. You can have a practice that is the best in world. But, if you’re not getting clients through your doors, then it means nothing.

Learning to balance your no-shows is vital because there are various reasons why they didn’t show up for their appointment. To find out which is the best way to balance the scale, you should find ways to fix that which resonates with your patients.

There are statistical similarities across all patients that you should pay keen attention to. However, some are more constant than others.

We prepared this guide to show you the different ways of reducing patient no-shows in your practice.

· Calling Patients Daily as a Reminder

Each afternoon you should have a designated staff member make calls to patients who have appointments for the next day. They should ask if the patient can make the appointment and, if not, ask if they’re ok with giving their space to another person if they’re confident they won’t make it.

Doing this will allow you enough time to cancel and enable the appointment to someone else rather than a no-show. In addition, your patient will unlikely be a no-show if you get them on their phone to confirm that they’re not going to show up.

· Create a Wait List

It would help if you considered creating a waitlist with the names of persons who can fill in if an appointment slot becomes available. The list should have the time and availability of those persons. They should also be able to take short notices.

· Use an Automatic Reminder

It’s an excellent idea to use automated services to send emails and reminders to your patients. You can use this even though you’re already calling your patients to remind them.

It gives you another way to reach them, especially for days when you cannot contact them by phone. One example of how this works is that it has a built-in reminder that reminds you of upcoming appointments to notify your patients.

Since these options are available, why not use them?

· Don’t Wait to Reorganize Your No-Show Appointments

Rescheduling your no-shows following they missed the appointment is not a way to prevent it from happening again. Instead, it shows that you care when you reach out and establish a connection with that patient. It will also make them more likely to show up next time.

Patients who missed one appointment will always make sure they don’t miss another one. A rule of thumb in this situation is to call the patient the moment they missed their meeting. You don’t want to wait until they call you back because it may never happen.

People often feel awkward when they miss an appointment which frequently prevents them from calling back. However, you can call the patient approximately 15 minutes after their missed appointment.

You should ensure you keep a non-judgmental tone when mentioning their no-show. Doing this will keep that patient coming back to your practice. For example, if your practice has a fee for missed appointment policy, you mustn’t talk about it up until their next meeting when they visit the office.

· Setting up Extra Reminders for Your Patients

Apart from making your daily routine calls, some patients have a particular time of the day when they prefer getting reminders. It doesn’t matter if you called them the day before; they just won’t retain it.

You can help negate them from being a no-show by calling them the morning of or two hours before their appointment. It may seem a lot, but the extra effort you put in is what keeps your patients coming back to your practice.

Some patients already know they have such a problem and will ask for notice at a particular time of the day. If you notice that any of your patients have this issue, you can show them different ways not to forget their appointments apart from what you’re already doing.

· Be Practical With Your Calendar

There’s always that one client who’s always late at every practice. Yet, they always stroll in, past their scheduled time, every time, and still expect to be seen.

Instead of punishing them by attaching a late fee or sending them away because they’re late, you can make your schedules a bit more practical.

So, instead of putting them at 10 am for a 10 o’clock appointment, set their appointment at 10:30 am and send their reminders for 10 am. That way, when they come half an hour late, they’ll be right on time.

Fortunately, you won’t have to implement this strategy on many persons, just those very few who are always late. We’re not sneaky, but this tactic will help you with those persons who will always be late no matter what.

· Write a Policy

The standard procedure is to have patients sign a missed appointment policy and other documents they have to sign up as a new patient at your practice. You can also consider posting this policy at your front desk.

Doing this ensures that no one can say they didn’t know about it. Most practices allow the first no-show free of charge, but you’ll attract a fee after that. While exceptions are made depending on the patient, the policy details are entirely up to you.


We know that getting new patients is hard, especially with many new practices opened, and now you have to babysit your patience to show up for their appointment practically. However, once you’ve tried the tips mentioned earlier, it should eliminate your no-show woes.

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