3 ways to help ensure patients keep their appointments

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There are many reasons why patients fail to show up to their physician's appointments. People are human, after all, and sometimes this is the result of basic forgetfulness. Other times, people fear what the doctor may tell them, and - to their detriment - fail to  attend their appointments. Different offices have their own protocols for patient appointment reminders. Some may be more effective than others, but no office wants to lose time and money because patients are not showing up.

Make the call
Practice managers and staff usually make patient calls to remind them of their appointments. However, this is not true across the board. The Practitioner's Journey advises that this be an established part of office operations to make patients aware of where they should be and when. The source suggested that staff not give patients the option of rescheduling, especially by using language that lets them out of the time slot; "Call us if you can't make it" is the example given. Instead, practitioners and staff should call patients two or three days ahead of their allotted time and day. Text messages are an additional method by which this note can be delivered, but it is always best to call.

Use good time-management
It's simple. Don't overbook your schedule and don't run over appointment times. If you want your patients to respect your time, then you also have to be mindful of theirs. No one wants to be waiting hours for an appointment , nor do they want to be rushed out of the door because you let your schedule get too full. Take the time to see patients, and manage your time wisely.

Improve the patient experience
Want patients to keep their appointments? Run a practice that others admire. According to the American Medical Association Wire, the whole operation needs to act like a team. This means practice managers must engage staff on all levels, physicians need to delegate EHR work and patients need to be involved. The source noted that some practices many want to set up a patient advisory board. Staff members may want to speak with patients after they are seen to garner feedback and new ideas on how to improve their overall experience. Patient-centered care is important, and this extends to how appointments are set, how  are informed and how a patient feels during the entire care cycle.

Taking both a proactive and a collaborative approach to your practice can streamline processes for everyone involved. Communication is key, between physicians, staff and patients, and will ensure more people keep their appointments and individuals are seen and treated in a timely fashion.

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Kevin McCarthy's picture

Kevin McCarthy

Industry News Editor

An avid traveler and news junkie, Kevin covers a range of topics from healthcare technology to policy and regulations. As a former journalism student, he enjoys finding stories relevant to small practices and is passionate about keeping them informed. Before joining NueMD, Kevin worked for Turner Broadcasting as a Programming Intern where he conducted legal research and contributed to editorial content development. He received his bachelor's degree in Communication from Kennesaw State University and currently serves as the Industry News Editor at NueMD.

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