Running a a pediatric occupational, physical, or speech therapy practice is rewarding. You're helping kids out every day, and getting paid to do something you're passionate about. But it's not always easy.
One thing that can make it especially difficult is no-shows. Missed appointments cause a lot of frustration because they directly impact your clinic's cash flow. And not only do they lead to lost revenue, they also result in a lot of wasted time for your practice. It's a double whammy.
You'll always have some some patients who just don't show up, but there are a few things that can be done to reduce the number of no-shows at your practice. Here are some ideas.
Many clinics charge for late cancellations and no-shows. This will definitely help motivate your patients' caregivers to make their appointments.
If you decide to go this route, make sure you have a clear no-show policy in place. Make caregivers aware of it in writing as soon as possible. This can be something you give them to sign along with the rest of their paperwork when they first get started with your practice.
By allowing patients to have prepaid appointments, they'll be more likely to show up because they've already invested in the time. You can make this an attractive option to caregivers by offering discounts for prepaid appointments.
Automated reminders are a polite way to nudge caregivers to remind them of an appointment. This could be through a text, email, or phone call.
Better yet, use multiple reminder methods.
When a patient first schedules an appointment, ask them what contact method they prefer. Then ask how they want to be reminded. Phone call, a text message, email, or all of the above.
Your reminders can also give your patients' caregivers the option to confirm that they’re coming or to reschedule if they can’t make it.
Value Your Patients
Making patients feel valued will make them more likely to stick to their appointments. So make sure you're developing good relationships with patients and their caregivers.
And make sure you're showing that you respect their time. Waiting to be seen when you had a set time scheduled for an appointment is very frustrating for caregivers. If patients and caregivers feel like you don't value their time, they won't value yours.
As mentioned above, when a patient fails to show up, you can add a fee to their bill on their next appointment. On the positive reinforcement side of things, you can give discounts for attending appointments.
Other rewards work too. For instance, you can enter the names of punctual patients in a monthly drawing for rewards like gift cards or a free lunch.
Be Prepared for No-Shows
Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to completely eliminate no-shows. The methods listed above will help you reduce them, but be prepared to have some each month. By keeping track of cancellations in your therapy reporting software you can stay on top of no-shows.
That way you can see if there is a problem you need to deal with. That might mean talking to a specific therapist who has a higher than average number of cancellations. Maybe they need to change their approach.
Or it may be a specific patient, and you'll need to talk to their caregiver about the importance of showing up for treatment.
I hope these ideas help you reduce no-shows at your clinic. If you have any other suggestions, please share them in the comments!