How To Put An End To Missed Appointments

If you conducted a case study on one patient that regularly missed appointments, what would you find? While reasons for missed appointments vary between patients, there are distinct patterns. Below are two case studies we have analyzed to reveal some of these patterns and suggest effective solutions. It’s time to put an end to missed appointments.

Case Study Example #1

Mary has chronic pain. As a result, she has regular appointments with her primary care doctor at her local hospital. However, Mary has been missing her appointments. Below are the top three reasons Mary has missed her appointments, and coincidentally, are the same reasons found among many patients.

  1. Mary struggles to find transportation to the hospital. With her chronic health issues, Mary can’t drive herself so she has to make arrangements or pay for transportation through Uber, Lyft, or similar services.
  2. Mary is concerned that when she arrives to the hospital she will not be able to find someone who can push her in a wheelchair or fears she will get lost in the hospital by herself. As a result, she hesitates to go if she cannot go with a family member or friend. This requires another arrangement.
  3. The appointments create anxiety for Mary, so much so that she would talk herself out of going to her appointments and rather miss them.

Solutions for Case Study #1

The reasons listed above are common patterns found among patients who are single and struggling with an ongoing physical challenge. However, there are effective ways to address each issue. All of the listed solutions below may not be easy to implement, depending on your specific situation.

  1. Many hospitals will offer transportation to and from patient homes. However, sometimes these options cost money and some patients can’t afford it. Do you know what your hospital or office offers? Starting a transportation program requires time and effort, but in the long run it will help so many patients and significantly decrease your no-shows for patients that find transportation a challenge.
  2. Using the same room or the same office to create consistency for a patient can have a huge impact on those who are on their own. If a patient feels comfortable knowing exactly where they are going every time then it will help to ease some of the anxiety associated with their appointment.
  3. If your patient is missing their appointments due to anxiety, the only way you will find out is by talking to them. You will need to make it a priority to check in with your patient’s mental and emotional health.

Case Study Example #2

Paul regularly misses his dentist appointments. Paul believes in visiting his dentist every 6 months, which is the standard for most individuals, yet he is constantly rescheduling with his office. Why does this happen?

  1. Paul is reminded of his appointment, which he made six months ago, only one day in advance. As a result, his schedule has a conflict and he has to reschedule. Paul chooses to prioritize his other appointments over his dentist appointment.
  2. He does not think about his dentist or his appointment six months away, so when he is reminded he feels surprised and sometimes annoyed.
  3. Paul doesn’t see the value in keeping his dentist appointment so he constantly reschedules.

Solutions for Case Study #2

  1. AppointmentReminders.com could have a significant impact in both of these case studies, but especially so for the second one. An automated appointment reminder program like appointmentreminders.com can do so much more than send reminders. You can send your patients surveys to get honest feedback which can be used to improve patient care. You can also use the program to send snippets of information throughout the year to your patients to keep your practice “in front” of them. Essentially this will serve as a reminder without reminding constantly.
  2. Sending multiple reminders can make a big difference in Paul’s case. One reminder can go to Paul one month ahead of the appointment and the second reminder can go to Paul a few days before the appointment. This should give your patient enough time to confirm their schedule.
  3. If your patient does not see the value in their appointment then they will always prioritize other things. Your job is to find creative and effective ways to make sure your patients understand why they need to keep their appointment and show up. You would think healthy teeth would be enough right? But the truth is, research has shown many people don’t like going to the dentist unless they feel like they have to.

Apart from these great benefits, appointmentreminders.com will also save your staff significant time every day when they don’t have to make those “standard” reminder phone calls. Find out if our program is right for your practice (and we’re sure it is!). Start your free trial here.