Learning how to optimize patient attendance can help you with revenue, retention, and staff workflow. Learn here how to start immediately reducing no-shows.
You’ve scheduled the patients — now it’s time to make sure they actually show up! From providing convenient appointment times to sending reminders, there are many ways to increase the chances that your patients will show up for their appointment. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best ways to optimize patient attendance.
Many factors can affect attendance, such as distance to the healthcare facility, transportation, financial concerns, and childcare. Patients may also feel too sick to make the trip, or they may simply forget. One of the most important factors of patient attendance — and the easiest to control — is communication.
Healthcare providers need to make sure that patients are aware of their appointments and know how to get to the healthcare facility. If parking will add additional time, staff should relay this information to patients. They also need to provide clear instructions on what to do if they need to cancel or reschedule their appointment. By doing this, healthcare providers can help reduce the number of no-shows and optimize patient attendance.
High patient attendance positively impacts providers and patients alike. It ensures patients get the care they need while allowing providers to run their practices smoothly and efficiently. Here are some of the benefits of optimizing patient attendance:
When patients attend their appointments regularly, they’re more likely to receive the care they need in a timely manner. This can lead to better overall health outcomes and a decrease in the need for emergency care.
On the other hand, it’s damaging to their health when patients miss their appointments. They can miss an initial screening that could detect disease. Acute problems may turn into chronic problems without the proper attention. Ongoing care can become disrupted, and providers may be unable to assess or change medications.
One study shows how even one missed appointment could impact a patient’s health journey. Patients who missed an appointment had an attrition rate close to 70%. The same study found that patients who did not show up for one or more appointments were less likely to return over the next 18 months.
Optimizing patient attendance and reducing no-shows gives your patients a greater chance of getting and staying healthy.
An increase in patient attendance can help improve the flow of traffic through your practice. Staff members can focus on caring for patients instead of scrambling to fill empty appointment times. It also frees them up from the task of rescheduling patients who have already missed their appointments.
In short, when patients routinely show up for their appointments, this allows staff members to focus on doing what they do best — provide care.
It’s no secret that one of the keys to a successful medical practice is maintaining a high rate of patient attendance. By increasing patient attendance, you can help to ensure that your practice is financially stable and able to meet its financial obligations. Conversely, patients who don’t show up for their appointments can cost a practice dearly in terms of lost revenue and decreased productivity.
Missed appointments equate to over $850 thousand in lost revenue annually for a 10-provider practice. Across the entire healthcare industry, that’s a $150 billion loss per year.
In some settings, that loss may be even higher. Imaging machines such as MRI or CT are costly to operate and maintain. These time slots are often difficult to fill with short notice, especially if the exam requires patient prep before the appointment. When these time slots are unable to be filled or have last-minute cancellations, this can cause high financial constraints to practices.
These losses together can greatly reduce a practice’s ability to operate successfully. If you’re unsure of the impact no-shows currently have on your practice, you can use our convenient ROI calculator to calculate the loss in revenue.
There are a number of things that a practice can do to encourage patients to show up for their appointments. The most effective way to optimize patient attendance is to use a comprehensive patient engagement platform. With this technology, it’s easy to put systems and touchpoints in place to help increase patient attendance while reducing the administrative burden on your staff.
One of the first steps to optimizing patient attendance is keeping track of why patients miss their appointments in the first place. This information can help you identify patterns and take steps to address the root causes.
Consider these parameters when tracking no-shows:
Once you have this available data, you can make necessary adjustments to improve patient attendance. You may even find that some no-shows are easily fixable. For example, if a patient has transportation issues, staff can help the patient make arrangements or suggest public transit routes. The option of a virtual visit is also a great alternative for patients who have difficulty getting to appointments.
One of the easiest ways that your practice can increase patient attendance is by giving patients more control over their appointment schedules. Patients should be able to schedule a visit 24/7/365 with the same ease as purchasing an item online. If scheduling is a hassle, patients are less likely to bother and more likely to miss appointments.
Practices can make it easy for patients to make appointments by allowing online scheduling. Additionally, if a patient needs to modify an outstanding appointment, it’s helpful to have an easy way for them to do this on their own. Doing so can help reduce the number of no-shows, as patients will be more likely to reschedule if they know they can do so without hassle and find a time that works best for them.
At Mend, we make it easy for patients to self-schedule as well as modify appointments. We offer a custom question tree to route the patient to the right appointment type, location, time slot, and provider. In addition to boosting patient attendance and retention, self-scheduling moves away a large percentage of manual tasks from phone calls, allowing you to reduce or refocus your workforce.
Some patients may have difficulty making it to their appointments during traditional business or school hours. To increase patient attendance, practices should be willing to be flexible with appointment times to accommodate these patients.
For example, a practice may choose to offer later hours one evening a week to accommodate after-work appointments. Offering Saturday morning slots may also help fill an empty schedule. In either instance, telehealth is an excellent way to extend office hours and eliminate the hassle of commuting during rush hours.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to increase patient attendance is to communicate early and often with your patients. This includes sending reminders for upcoming appointments. This can be done in myriad ways, such as by email, text message, or phone call.
With Mend, appointment reminders are dynamic. Reminders are sent via text and email and adjusted accordingly to the platform’s artificial intelligence predictions.
For example, a patient who is unlikely to attend their appointment will receive different messages than those who are more likely to attend. These messages will prompt the patient to confirm or reschedule. When you consider that 90% of text messages are read within just three minutes, this helps boost patient engagement and prepare your staff ahead of time in case adjustments need to be made.
In order to communicate effectively with patients, Mend also supports eight languages. These include Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Nepali, Portuguese, and Spanish. Notifications can be sent in the patient’s preferred language to help remove communication barriers when it comes to scheduling and other elements of care.
Keep in mind that a complete patient engagement solution should provide reminders for all types of appointments. This includes virtual visits, office visits, video consultations, phone calls, home visits, and more.
Engaged patients are far less likely to miss their appointments. To increase attendance, it’s important to get patients involved in their care ahead of their appointment. An easy way to do this is to use a digital intake form sent prior to the visit.
As opposed to paper and pen, patients can use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to fill out the forms they need to complete. They can even send their medical histories by taking photos or attaching files. Practices with a telehealth solution that incorporate digital intake forms have an average patient engagement rate of 86% or more. In this way, digital intake forms are the new appointment confirmation.
There are many benefits to using digital forms. Not only does this increase patient satisfaction and retention, but it also relieves your staff of manual processes and busy work. It also gives your staff an idea of who is more likely to attend or cancel their appointment. Telemedicine solutions like Mend automatically send these forms ahead of the appointment. This way, staff can focus on the work that matters most to patients.
Nobody likes to wait, so it’s no surprise that long wait times are one of the biggest deterrents to patient attendance. No practice is immune to occasional wait times, but do your best to keep wait times to a minimum by running an efficient practice.
Nonetheless, there are still ways to make waiting for an appointment to start a positive patient experience. With Mend, we offer a custom-brand virtual waiting room for telehealth visits. In this Enhanced Virtual Waiting Room (EVWR) experience, patients are met with a Netflix-style waiting room that allows them to browse high-value, educational healthcare content before a provider joins their visit.
This enhanced experience shows patients that you care about their health. Patients are more likely to actively participate in their own care as a result. Mend’s EVWR has also proven to increase patient satisfaction by 23% — another important KPI to keep in mind for increasing patient engagement and attendance.
Empty time slots in a provider’s schedule cost money and zap staff productivity. The average no-show rate is 23% across the country. This leaves large, unproductive gaps in provider schedules, getting in the way of maximizing daily visits. Thankfully, hybrid care is changing this.
Historically when no shows occurred, it was difficult or nearly impossible to fill these slots in a timely manner. Now, practices can optimize patient attendance by using a telehealth platform.
With telehealth, your practice can offer virtual walk-ins to fill empty slots or missed appointments. Once a patient misses their appointment, a staff member can contact additional patients on the waiting list. Those patients can join with just a few clicks from the comfort of their homes.
Like patient reminders, Mend also supports translations for virtual visits. All providers need to do is click a button, and a remote translator will be able to join the visit in the patient’s preferred language of choice. That means no more appointment delays or cancellations due to translator scheduling issues.
Despite diligent efforts, no-shows and last-minute cancellations can still happen. If a patient does miss their appointment, it’s important to know why. Staff should follow up with patients who miss their appointments to understand their reason(s). They should also attempt to reschedule the appointment or offer other suitable options, such as a virtual visit.
This shows that you care about their health and well-being and want to ensure they get the attention they need. It also gives valuable insight into any areas in your practice that may be open for improvement.
There are a number of ways to optimize patient attendance, but the most important thing is to ensure clear communication with your patients throughout their care experience. This includes appointment reminders, digital intake forms, and more. Allowing self-scheduling options, as well as offering flexible appointment times, can also help patients feel engaged in their care and more likely to show up for their visit.
Putting an end to costly missed appointments and creating a streamlined workflow is simple with Mend. If your practice is struggling with patient attendance, all you need to do to increase attendance is request a free demo with our team. From there, we’ll walk you through integrating it into your existing system so you can put an end to the no-show nightmare.
In healthcare, we define patient attendance as the number of patients who visit a facility for their appointment. Successful patient attendance means that the majority of patients are showing up for their appointments. If a practice struggles with many no shows, the patient attendance rate is low.
Patient participation is important in healthcare for a number of reasons. First, it helps to ensure that patients receive the care they need. Second, it allows healthcare providers to get a better understanding of their patient's health needs and preferences. Lastly, it helps to build trust between patients and healthcare providers.
You can reduce the number of no-shows and cancellations by optimizing patient attendance. One way to do this is to offer online appointment scheduling. Another way to reduce cancellations is to proactively send reminders to patients via text or email.
No-shows are calculated using a simple formula: the number of appointments that were scheduled minus the number of appointments that were attended. This number is then divided by the total number of appointments that were scheduled. The resulting percentage is the no-show rate.