No-show patients are unavoidable in a medical practice, but if you have a lot of them, it's time to start clamping down -- in an understanding way, depending on the patient population. No-shows cost you time and money, and they take appointment times away from others. But there are strategies for reducing the number of times you end up with an unintentionally empty appointment slot.
Talk to your billing company about charging no-shows. If you haven't been charging people who don't show up without notice, it is legal to do that as long as you apply the policy to all of your patients (in other words, you can't ask your billing company to bill a select group of patients for their absences). You may also want to find out if the billing company allows for pre-charges, like reverse deposits where the patient has to pay a small amount ahead of time as an incentive to come in. There are codes for these types of charges, but your billing company needs to know if you're going to start using them -- and you need to be sure you use the correct ones.
Be Clear About Appointment Times
Stay in contact with patients, be clear about appointment times, and try to call them to remind them a couple of days ahead of the appointment. Be very clear about your cancellation policy. Basically, treat your appointment setting as a cover-your-rear situation in which you do everything you can to warn the patient that they do have to either show up or cancel before a specific point, or else they'll be charged.
Note Common Excuses
Try to sort the excuses you get and see if there's a common one. If your new patients are constantly late due to traffic, for example, you can add a warning about travel times to your appointment cards. If you find that there are people who don't show up due to on-call work problems or due to family care-taking issues, you can try to adjust how you handle appointments with them so that they are not continually penalized because of someone else's actions.
In addition to those appointment-deposit codes, look into offering discounts, coupons for local services, or even small gift cards if people show up on time to a series of appointments. It sounds kind of corny, but if you make it so that people benefit immediately by showing up (and not just medically), then you could see a better on-time rate.
Your medical billing service representatives are also a valuable source of information regarding preventing no-shows. They are at the front line of billing for no-shows, literally, and they may have suggestions that you can use.
Contact a company like Premium Medical Billing Inc to learn more.
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