Four Ways to Reduce No-Shows

People get busy. Sometimes, that means an upcoming appointment may slip their mind. This can be frustrating for staff, business owners and patients hoping to schedule an appointment. Here are some handy tips for reducing no-shows in your office.

Use automatic appointment reminders

Automatic appointment reminders save staff time, reduce human error and leave a trail of data to track communications between the office and patients. They allow a practice to keep detailed records regarding if, when and how patients are receiving reminders. Automatic appointment reminders can also track when a patient confirms and will allow you to see exactly how they are confirming.

Automatic appointment reminders allow patients to request reminders when, where and how they want to be contacted. The shift from voice calls and email to texting makes it a popular choice for reminders. According to Irene Rufferty, a mobile marketer at BSG, “nearly 78% of people would like to have a text conversation with a business.” This interaction includes SMS messages to change, schedule and confirm appointments. Giving the patients the power to choose their methods of contact increases the chances they will acknowledge an appointment reminder.

Schedule patients as soon as possible

Appointments booked ahead of time – such as pre-appoints (appointments typically scheduled a year in advance) – can be easy to forget. Scheduling appointments closer to their annual date can be an easy way to keep the appointment fresh in the memory of your patients. If you choose to keep your appointment book full through pre-appoints, take advantage of utilizing appointment reminders well in advance to give your patients ample time to reschedule if necessary.

In an article from Optometric Management, Dr. Scibal suggests that 50% of patients would refer to another eyecare practitioner for help if their primary OD cannot book them in a week or less. These are patients who require glasses and contact lenses, a large source of profit for most optometrists. If this is revenue you wish not to lose, consider keeping a wait-list as discussed below.

Use multiple reminders

According to Laura Forer, 20% of emails are opened and 98% of texts are opened. As mentioned before, text reminders are becoming high in demand. Using different mediums and multiple touchpoints is an effective way to reach patients. Multiple reminders throughout the month leading up to an appointment will make it a priority in the patient’s mind. Consider implementing automatic appointment reminders – once a patient confirms, they will not be reminded again until right before their appointment. Each office should work to find the balance of messaging patients who need extra reminders but not over-messaging those who have already confirmed.

Keep a wait-list

If an office is booked out for a long period of time, scheduling patients quickly may not be an option. Keep a wait-list for patients trying to get in as soon as possible. Should a patient cancel, patients on the wait-list can be contacted to take the place of that missed appointment. An average revenue of $100-150 per patient can result in a loss of around $1000 per week if just 2 appointment slots are left open per day. A wait-list will maintain the revenue that would otherwise be lost due to cancellations, keep your patients happy, and help you retain a full schedule.

Want to utilize all these steps with ease? Check out Prime Nexus, a messaging system by EyeCare Prime to drive your practice’s success.

For more on scheduling trends, check out How Self-Scheduling Trends Can Benefit Optometry Practices and Patients

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