How to Write a No-Show Policy for Your Medical Practice

April 28, 2022 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Practice Management

Is your practice constantly having patients not show up for their appointment? No matter how frequently or infrequently this might be happening at your practice, it’s cause for concern and can heavily impact your healthcare revenue cycle if no changes are made to address these no-show appointments.

In addition to impacting the health of your patients due to delayed follow-ups and throwing your practice’s schedule off, no-show patients are incredibly costly. A recent study found that no-show patients cost the US healthcare industry a staggering $150 billion; on average, each physician loses about $200 per missed appointment.

Let’s dive into how to write a no-show policy and why it’s important that your medical practice has one established in order to reduce the number of no-show patients you have to mitigate and keep your healthcare revenue cycle in good shape!

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What Is a No-Show?

The term “no-show” is pretty self-explanatory—you had a patient scheduled and they didn’t show up for their appointment nor did they communicate with your practice that they wouldn’t be there. 

When a patient misses their appointment without forewarning your medical practice, it’s usually because of one of the following reasons:

  1. They simply forgot about the appointment
  2. They’re worried about the cost of the appointment and felt they couldn’t afford it
  3. Their transportation fell through
  4. Their plans changed and they forgot to communicate with your practice
  5. There was a last-minute emergency

Understanding the patient’s reasoning for not showing up to their appointment can help you and your practice recognize where you can step in to help with reminders, payment assistance information, or other materials to help mitigate the chance of them not showing up without warning. 

No-show patients impact your healthcare revenue cycle

Why Is a No-Show Policy Important?

Implementing a no-show policy is important because it helps reduce the number of no-show patients that might be impacting your bottom line. Establishing a no-show policy and properly disseminating its practices to your patients can help them—and you—keep the day running smoothly and schedule patients appropriately.

No-show patients are detrimental to your practice’s workflow efficiency and your overall healthcare revenue cycle. When patients are scheduled, that blocks out a dedicated time for your staff to work with that patient and deliver great care—if that patient doesn’t show up and your practice isn’t able to fill that slot with walk-ins, then your staff members are costing the practice money. 

How to Write a No-Show Policy

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of what constitutes a no-show patient and the importance of a no-show policy, let’s break down a few components of what your practice can include in this writing:

Establish fees for canceling – or incentivizing patients to keep their appointment 

Clarifying to your patients that they might be charged a fee for missing their appointment without prior notice can help reduce the number of no-show patients your practice might have to deal with. Since they’ll know how much it might cost them to miss their slot, they’ll be more likely to contact your office before skipping out.

On the other hand, a rewards system can help incentivize patients to keep their appointments. Consider these tenets when writing your practice’s no-show policy:

  • Straight fee: Every time patients miss their appointments, they’re charged a no-show fee
  • Reward system: Patients who show up on time and keep their appointments can get rewards, such as gift cards or other incentives, depending on your practice.
  • Fee erased upon return: A small fee is added to your patients’ bills when they don’t show up for their appointments; however, if patients reschedule and arrive on time, the fee is removed.

Attaching a price tag to the cost of a no-show appointment can help your patients plan ahead and stay in communication with your practice about their visit. 

Enable your patients to cancel in a convenient manner

In today’s busy world where plans tend to shift last minute, flexibility can be a huge help for your patients. As such, incorporating a grace period for patients to reschedule or cancel their appointments altogether without penalty can help them when needed! 

Empowering your patients to cancel or reschedule in a convenient—and timely—manner means that they won’t no-show as a result of a complicated rescheduling process. Plus, granting them this flexibility and convenience reflects favorably on your medical practice and can help build your reputation.

Explain your no-show policies to your patients

Explain how your policies are enforced

Missing an appointment might not mean much to your patients in the broad, abstract scheme of things—but if they’re constantly missing their appointment times, then it might be helpful to incorporate workflows that include educating them on how your no-show policies are enforced.

For example, if more than three appointments are missed, then that patient’s scheduling abilities are limited and require a phone call to the office instead of the convenient online portal system. Educating your patients on the consequences of your practice’s no-show policy can help them realize the effects that a lack of communication can have on their relationship with your medical practice.

Optimize Your Healthcare Revenue Cycle with NCG Medical!

Whether your medical practice is dealing with repeat no-show patients or your insurance claims are being rejected due to inaccurate coding, your practice’s healthcare revenue cycle is vital to your success! Whenever there’s a problem with your financial bottom line, it’s imperative to address it as effectively as possible.

Charting a way forward might mean that partnering with a medical billing firm is the best course of action! Turn to the experts at NCG Medical to handle your practice’s medical billing and coding processes so that you can enjoy an immediately optimized revenue cycle and focus on what matters most: your patients.

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