No-shows. Schedule skippers. Patients missing in action.
No practice likes them, but all practices have them.
One solution? Charging a missed appointment fee. But there are some pros and cons to weigh before implementing one. And a strategy behind it.
- It offers a tangible reason for patients not to skip—or to at least call ahead to cancel
- It can make up a small amount of lost revenue from missed appointments
- It shows patients that missing an appointment without a call isn’t acceptable
- It can make your practice seem inflexible and more about profit than patients
- It can turn missed appointment into a lost patient
- It can lead to negative word-of-mouth or online reviews
If you do decide your problem with now shows is big enough to charge a fee, here are some things to keep in mind to maintain strong relationship with your patients in the process.
- Be transparent—tell patients that your practice takes missed appointments seriously because they leave people without work and that you have a no-show fee policy in place. Have something printed that can be sent home with the patient. Or better yet a police to sign. The fee should never be a surprise.
- Be proactive—call, text, or email the patient reminders. Often missed appointments are forgotten appointments. And if they were scheduled well in advance you can’t really blame a busy patient for forgetting. A little reminder can make a huge difference.
- Be understanding—perhaps don’t charge for the first missed appointment or start with a small fee and only increase it if skipping appointments seems to become a habit. Allow patients to state their case if they believe the fee is unfair (perhaps they had a family emergency). At the end of the day you need to show your patients that a fee doesn’t mean you don’t care.