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Patient Payments Blog

How One Practice Minimizes the Cost of Missed Appointments.

Posted by Jim Turner

Nov 1, 2016 9:24:00 AM

You may be thinking that you’ve tried everything to prevent missed appointments but for some reason patients still don’t show. Missed appointments mean lost revenue and scheduling chaos for your practice.  


An April 2015 article states the problem of missed appointments:

Missed appointments cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $150 billion a year.  This country spends $2 trillion a year treating preventable long-term illnesses; and bad debt continues to pile up, with unpaid medical bills costing healthcare providers $65 billion every year.  It’s clear the cost of inefficiency in healthcare is high, and it’s a problem that cripples providers and drives up the cost of healthcare for consumers. http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/blog/insight-tackling-healthcares-costly-problem-missed-appointments

The article goes on to report that the problem doesn’t stop there.  It states most practices have the technology to provide adequate appointment reminders but aren’t really recouping enough revenue with them.

If your office has all the technology but is still suffering losses from missed appointments these suggestions are for you. You may never find the sure fire way to get patients to show up but we have some suggestions for decreasing the revenue loss from no-shows. The policies below have been in use by a prominent primary care provider in the Pacific Northwest for more than five years. They have several locations and providers and lower no-shows than the average practice.

The policies may sound drastic to you but this practice has had great success with them. You may have to tweak the numbers for your office but the foundation of the policies is solid. They work when they are implemented.

Policy #1: No one gets an appointment without providing payment information.


Policy #2: No-shows and cancellations within 24 hours of appointment times are charged a $90 no-show fee.


Policy #3: Policies #1 and #2 are prominently displayed on the practice website and shared when making a verbal appointment.

 Explanation: Payment information is a credit or debit card. The office has the technology to capture the card information and hold it securely until the patient shows up for the appointment. The card is then used to pay for the appointment.

The no-show policy is meant to lessen the cost of no-shows. It does not cover the full cost of a missed appointment but does replace some of the lost revenue. Patients pushed back when the policy was implemented but persistence, excellent care, and great communication have overcome all their objections and the practice is thriving.

New patients are never in doubt about the policies. They are (and must be) prominently displayed on all websites, marketing materials, and shared verbally when appointments are made. Since an appointment cannot be made without the information, staff members are very good at having the conversation.

The incentive for patients to keep their appointments or cancel in plenty of time for the practice to fill the slot is obvious. The only question remaining for your practice is, “Have missed appointments cost you enough to take corrective measures?”

Topics: Medical Office Administration, Missed appointments, Lost Revenue

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