Four Steps to Reduce Missed Patient Appointments

November 18, 2009

Four simple steps can help you reduce missed patient appointments and boost profitability. So said Mark Rosenberg, MD, PhD, president of Behavioral Health Management, PC, in St Louis, who spoke at the US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress in Las Vegas. Not only do missed appointments result in lost revenue, said Rosenberg, but also they “interrupt the flow of patient care and impede clinic productivity.”

Four simple steps can help you reduce missed patient appointments and boost profitability. So said Mark Rosenberg, MD, PhD, president of Behavioral Health Management, PC, in St Louis, who spoke at the US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress in Las Vegas.1 Not only do missed appointments result in lost revenue, said Rosenberg, but also they “interrupt the flow of patient care and impede clinic productivity.”

Charge for missed appointments. This is the best way to keep patients on track. This strategy effectively reduces missed follow-up appointments, but it does not prevent missed appointments by new patients. Rosenberg clarified that the fee for missed appointments is not the same fee charged for scheduled appointments, because it is illegal to bill insurance companies for services not rendered.

Remind patients about their next appointment. This may take additional time, but Rosenberg suggests viewing the effort as a revenue-generating activity. When making reminder calls, it is most helpful to contact patients 1 to 3 days before their appointment. Also, be sure to follow up within a week those who failed to appear and ask why they did not make their appointment. Reschedule their session during this call.

Track missed appointments. Analysis of the results can help you determine who should be targeted with reminders. You may uncover trends (for example, that patients are likely to miss appointments on specific days or at specific times).

Overbook appointments. “This is an effective strategy to protect revenue from no-shows,” said Rosenberg. However, to effectively overbook sessions, it is important to have a good understanding of the results of your analysis of missed appointments. When overbooking, he suggests scheduling patients in a wave pattern, such as having more appointments at the top of the hour. That way, you can play catch up in the latter portion of the hour.

References:

Reference


1. Rosenberg M. Understanding managed care: improving profitability. Presented at: US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress; November 2-5, 2009; Las Vegas.