Patients miss appointments for many reasons, but the result is always the same: Patients risk their health, and physicians lose out on revenue. Understanding the causes of missed appointments will help physicians build an engagement strategy that reduces the rate of no-shows and seeks to improve patient outcomes.

Integrated technology solutions can perform the heavy lifting so physicians can remain focused on treating patients and administrative staff can stay committed to providing the best service possible. Pre- and post-visit solutions keep patients engaged so they can take on a more active role in their health care.

Discovering the cost of missed appointments

Physicians’ offices that do not take steps to reduce the average number of missed appointments risk losing substantial revenue. With so many responsibilities competing for patient time, a doctor’s appointment may slide down an individual’s list of priorities.

“The average unused 60-minute time slot costs the practice $200.”

Common industry experience shows an unused 60-minute time slot costs a physician $200 on average. Nationwide, that amounts to $150 billion annually. A CrossCHX report corroborated this data, noting a typical office loses approximately $725 daily as a result of no-shows.

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Not only do practices miss out on opportunities to generate revenue, but also physicians lose valuable time. When the day’s schedule proceeds as planned, physicians can better spend their administrative time or leverage extra hours to conduct additional televisit appointments.

Building engagement among patients will help them understand why it’s important to keep their appointments. By investing in integrated technology solutions, physicians can reach patients on their terms.

Engaging patients prior to the visit

To get more patients to keep their appointments, physicians offices need to put more emphasis on engagement before the visit. Engaged patients should know when their next appointments will occur and why they’re seeing the physician, as well as how to get to the office.

Not everyone has the time to call up the doctor’s office to make an appointment; offering additional scheduling solutions could increase the average number of registrations. An online scheduling platform helps patients request appointments at convenient times. Plus, this solution helps the practice fill last-minute openings as they appear.

Automated appointment reminder solutions, such as text messages, phone calls, emails and traditional mailers, can all help patients remember when to see the doctor. These solutions work best when each patient is able to subscribe to his or her preferred method of communication. For instance, busy professionals may appreciate the unobtrusive nature of text message reminders, while a retiree may prefer a phone call.

Other engagement solutions allow patients to arrive at the office already prepared to meet with the physician. Using an integrated solution for pre-visit registration forms can make it easier for patients to provide necessary information before they even step foot through the office door.

Keeping patients engaged promotes better health outcomes.Keeping patients engaged promotes better health outcomes.

Engaging patients after the visit

Following up with patients after the visit is just as important as promoting engagement before they arrive. This step can be especially important for practices that treat a high volume of Medicare patients. Promoting the easy transfer of Medicare patients between the hospital and a primary care provider helps ensure optimal outcomes.

Building engagement after the patient leaves the office will make it easier to schedule a follow-up appointment, deliver test results and track patient satisfaction. In fact, monitoring satisfaction rates within a practice’s patient population makes good financial sense. One study, by a leading communication company, showed that 90 percent of surveyed patients revealed they would not be afraid to leave an established relationship with a doctor if they were not completely satisfied.

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Integrated solutions such as automatic test result notifications reduce information delays and ensure that important messages reach patients as soon as possible. For instance, a practice could automatically alert patients when test results come back negative, thereby saving patients from additional hours or days of stress.

When doctors need patients to come back for another visit, these solutions make it possible to schedule an appointment that is convenient for everyone.

Ultimately, missed appointments put patient health at risk and reduce the financial stability of the practice. To learn more about improving your practice’s efficiency, revenue and patient care with integrated technology, check out our eBook on the subject.