Managing Patient No-Shows

We are experiencing a significant increase in our patient no-show rates. Do you have any strategies for improvement?

Patient no-shows are problematic in all areas of the health care industry, but especially for community health centers. No-shows not only negatively impact healthcare by preventing patients from receiving necessary services, but also significantly decrease health center revenues.  Although patient no-show rates vary across the entire healthcare system, community health centers can often experience higher no-show rates due to the patient population being served.  Factors impacting these numbers include mental health diagnoses, inadequate transportation, childcare needs, and other logistical issues. 

Although strategies for improving no-show rates are dependent on the trends of the patient population, some standard approaches include the following:

  • Determine the reasons patients are missing appointments.
  • Implement automated appointment reminders.
  • Utilize the patient’s preferred method of contact to schedule, confirm, and reschedule    appointments.
  • Provide patients who miss appointments with the option to reschedule.
  • Reduce the wait time between when the appointment is scheduled and the actual appointment time.
  • Ensure all communication is provided in language and literacy levels that is appropriate for the patient population.

Most health centers maintain a No-Show Policy that outlines the process for managing no-shows.  It is important to remember,  the procedures in place must contain clear guidelines, yet do not limit access to care.  

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