We've heard a lot from eyecare practice staff that one of their biggest challenges is managing late and no-show patients in their office. No-show patients lose revenue for your practice, and late patients can mess up your entire schedule for the day. So, it's understandable that dealing with these types of patients can be frustrating.
While there isn't always a perfect method for every late and no-show situation, we've got some tips and ideas that might inspire you to manage your patients differently.
4 Ways to Manage Late and No-Show Patients in Your Optical Practice
Implement a Policy
One of the best ways to stay on top of no-shows is to implement a strict no-show policy, and clearly communicate that policy to your patients when they schedule an appointment. Clear communication allows you to set the right expectations off the bat. A policy written in fine print isn't going to be noticed by most patients, and will only cause confrontation.
Money is a big motivator for people. If they know they will be subjected to a no-show fee it's likely that they will put in more effort to show up to their appointment. Some patients might fight back against a no-show fee, so you can consider waiving the fee under certain circumstances like if they reschedule the appointment, or cancel more than 24 hours in advance.
Confirm Patient Contact Info
This one is pretty easy to do. If you're taking the time to confirm your patient's contact information it's going to be easier for your staff to get in touch with them to remind them of their upcoming appointments. Throughout the week you might also be able to create a list of "on call patients" who are looking to get in quickly. That way you're able to call them right away when a patient cancels and an appointment slot opens up.
Reward the Timely Patients
Instead of punishing your late or no-shows, reward your timely patients, and make it public. Positive reinforcement is sometimes a better motivator than a negative one. You could enter all on time patients that month into a drawing for a gift card. You can promote the contest by sending out pre-appointment emails that let patients know if they are on time to their appointment they will entered into the drawing.
Utilize Automated Patient Reminders
When your patients are pre-booking appointments 6 months ahead of time, there is a good chance that the appointment will fall off their calendar. Utilizing an automated patient reminder tool will help your staff better manage appointment reminders, and allow them to spend less time on the phone and more time in your office with patients. With most automated reminder systems you'll be able to choose the communication type (email, text, phone), and customize the reminder for each patient. You will also be able to contact patients via a second method if you don't get confirmation from the first communication.