Better patient relationship management, fewer no-show appointments

July 15, 2019

Physician practices can use physician relationship management technology to recoup lost revenue and improve patient outcomes.

No-shows are the plague of every 21st century healthcare organization. It seems that over the years, patients have become worse and worse about showing up for their appointments. A recent study in The Journal of America Osteopathic Association found no-show rates in an outpatient medical organization ranged from 23 percent to 34 percent. In other words, physician practices have to recoup the loss of three or four patients who don’t show up for their appointments each day.

 

The impact of no-shows on physician practices

Every time a patient fails to show up for a scheduled appointment, everyone in the office is left scrambling to adjust the rest of the day, putting the whole practice behind schedule. No-shows can result in frustration for staff as they try to figure out if a patient is coming and possibly longer waits for subsequent patients if the practice waits for the missing patient, which could reduce overall patient satisfaction scores.

No-shows can result in a lower quality of care and worse health outcomes for those patients who don’t show up. And, of course, those no-shows are extremely costly to the bottom line. For the average medical provider, no-shows cost more than $300,000 a year in lost revenue.

Patient relationship management (PRM) technology is one solution that healthcare organizations are leveraging to change things. The recently released State of PRM Report found that using a PRM platform has a direct and quantifiable impact on the number of no-shows in a practice.

The vast majority - 81 percent - of organizations that use PRM software have a no-show rate of 10 percent or lower. This means that the average medical organization can add around $164,000 each year in additional revenue just by using PRM software. This added revenue more than pays for the cost of PRM technology.

 

Optimizing your PRM messaging for best results

One of the biggest weapons practices have to fight no-shows is automated appointment reminders. Even after implementing a PRM system and sending automated reminders, there are still ways to make your reminders even more effective. In a recent analysis of 20 million appointment reminders, researchers found when you should and shouldn’t send appointment reminders to get the highest response rates.

Here are four best practices researchers identified:

Stop sending a reminder upon scheduling.

At-scheduling reminders are those sent immediately upon patients scheduling an appointment. This may mean the message is sent weeks or months before the appointment. Researchers found these reminders have virtually no impact on confirmation rates and probably don’t need to be sent in the first place.

Send the first reminder three weeks before an appointment.

Sending a weekly message is a must for your no-show strategy. It improves the confirmation rate by 126 percent over no automated reminder. Research suggests that sending the weekly reminder three weeks before the appointment is the best option, as confirmation rates are lower at both two weeks and four weeks in advance.

Send the second reminder three days before the appointment.

Send a message more than three days before an appointment, and it leaves too much time for conflicts to arise. Send it closer than three days and patients might not have time to move things around on calendar. By sending the daily message at three days, patients are more likely to know if there will be a scheduling conflict on the actual appointment date. These messages improve confirmation rates another 26 percent.

Send your final reminder three hours before the appointment.

The same day reminder only increases confirmations by 4 percent, but it is still valuable as a final touch to get patients to show up. Consider a three-hour lead time to give patients time to arrange care for dependents, reschedule any conflicting meetings or appointments and coordinate other details.

Overall, this 3-3-3 strategy can increase patient appointment confirmations by 156 percent over sending no automated reminders. Of course, you should always adjust and apply this advice as it pertains to your own physician practice. Staying responsive to what works with your patients is always a best practice to follow.

PRM software allows your practice to do what works best for physicians, providers and patients. With the right cadence of communications, practices can reduce no-shows, increase revenue and see virtually immediate return on their investment in the technology. It’s time for more PRM, less no-shows.

Jim Higgins is the founder and CEO of Solutionreach. You can follow him on Twitter: @higgs77.