Friday, August 7, 2015

Medical Practice Question: To Charge, or Not to Charge for No-shows

A question that I am often asked is whether or not there should be charge for no-shows. In most cases this creates bad vibes with patients and creates a lot of work on the back end with little results. A blanket response to a provider complaining at a board meeting about the fact that there are a lot of no-shows is not appropriate.

What is your percentage of no-shows per week? I am not aware of a good benchmark but in talking with practices, the goal of less than 3% seems reasonable.

Instead the root cause of no-shows should be considered. Here are a few questions that should be asked when the issue of no shows comes up:
  • Is it one provider? 
  • Is it one day of the week or time of that day? 
  • Is it one payer type? 
  • Is it one age group? 
  • Is it new patients? 
  • How long from the call to the appointment? 
  • Is it established patients? 
  • Repeat offenders that can and should be dealt with individually? 
  • Others in your practice? 
The main point of this is that the administrator should have sufficient data in place to offer a well thought out plan. A blanket response implies unawareness, laziness, or reactionary decision making. This type of action often times causes more problems than offers solutions.

This does not mean that a no-show charge is not warranted, it may well be for certain patients, e.g., a behavioral health patient that has difficulty with responsibility may learn something from having to pay for that a mistake.

We may have done such a good job training our patients that we always run late that they can come in late or maybe not bother to show up since they are feeling better.

We may have a provider that needs help with bed side manner and efficiency.

We may have a scheduling issue and schema and protocols needs to be changed as a result of the analysis of data.

I am sure you can find many more reasons, come up with solid solutions and develop a well thought out transition plan to address those solutions!