• Best of E-Talk: How to Implement a No-Show Policy

    Question: Lately, we have had more and more "no-shows" in our clinic. For example, a couple cancelled five minutes before their appointment because they were too busy at work. We have a sign posted in the front office clearly stating that if patients need to cancel, they must contact us 24 hours in advance to avoid a fee. Should this be stated in our paperwork as well?

    Prior to implementing a policy, make sure to verify whether or not any health plan contracts you've signed specifically exclude billing for missed appointments. If you newly established or altered a no-show policy, you must notify patients prior to implementing it — for example, via an email blast to all existing patients.

    Answer: Some practices also choose to institute a discharge policy — for example, a “third time’s a charm” policy. In such cases, the practice discharges a patient after the third time (or other predetermined limit) he or she doesn’t show up for an appointment. This has proven to be particularly effective, as patients would rather not lose their physicians. And be sure to communicate with the referring doctor if you choose not to reschedule their patient because of no-shows. They can help reinforce your policy by insisting that their patients either keep appointments or cancel well enough in advance.

    Additional options to lower your no-show rate: Best of E-Talk: Policies for Patient No-Shows.