No-shows: The real cost & how SMS reminders save time & money

Even the busiest medical practices have had their fair share of patients missing appointments, also known as appointment no-shows. Patients get busy, appointments clash with unexpected work or family matters, and sometimes, patients simply just forget. Whatever the reason – appointment no-shows are to be expected, right? While some practices have a policy in place that invoices patients for missed appointments, other practices write them off as part of the cost of doing business

The fact is, not only are no-shows costing you money, but most medical professionals would also agree that no-shows are not just about a loss in revenue – no-shows are also potential breaks in the continuity of care and practice & staff efficiency.

In this article we review the implications of no-shows on your practice’s i) revenue, ii) continuum of care, and iii) efficiency; and how automated patient appointment reminders are proving invaluable to medical practices.

1. The cost of no-shows on your revenue

Let’s assume that with an average consultation fee of R550, a private practice has at least 1 appointment no-show per day, or 22 appointment no-shows over a 22 day work month. Total cost of missed appointments over a month period would be:

22 missed appointments x R550 average consultation fee = R12 100 per month or R145 200 per annum.  

As you can see, no-shows can cost medical practices hundreds of thousands of Rands in lost revenue each year. However, a study by Columbia University discovered that not only are automated SMS reminders simple and cost-effective, but they were also able to reduce no-shows by an average of 34%. That would mean that by simply implementing automated SMS reminders, an average practice would be recouping an additional R50 000 per year that would have otherwise been lost revenue as a result of no-shows.

2. Continuum of Care

Most medical professionals would agree that no-shows are not just about a loss in revenue – no-shows are also potential breaks in the continuity of care. Patients who don’t arrive for follow-up appointments or regular check-ups – particularly chronic disease patients – are at risk of greater health concerns and/or gaps in their care. 

Of course, sometimes life happens and not all no-shows can be avoided, but a simple SMS is a powerful way to hold patients accountable for their own health.  

3. Practice & staff Efficiency

If your practice has been around for some time, you may have hired staff based on their ability to be efficient and juggle the many tasks that need to be carried out as part of running a medical practice. Since technology has become normalised, you probably don’t want your staff sitting on the phone, trying to reach patients to remind them of scheduled appointments. It’s an inefficient use of time that reduces overall practice productivity.

Automated patient reminders can be customised and delivered with no additional manual actions required. This frees up staff to engage in more important tasks at the practice. Not only that but automated patient reminders can also go a long way in ensuring patients arrive for their scheduled appointments on time, reducing the amount of stress and juggling you and your staff face when patients are late and waiting rooms are full. 

The one benefit of automated patient reminders we haven’t yet touched on is the fact that patients appreciate the reminder and it is in a manner that is convenient for most. In addition to saving time, money and resources, automated patients reminders can offer tangible results when it comes to patient retention and your bottom line. 

Healthbridge has been helping private practices run profitable, patient-centric practices for over 20 years. To find out how we can help you improve efficiency and make use of automated patient reminders, click here.

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