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How to Create A No-Show Fee Policy For Your Practice

no show fee policy

Did you know the healthcare industry loses more than $150 billion a year to no-shows alone? While there are a variety of reasons patients might miss their appointments, like simple forgetfulness or something unexpected taking precedence, it’s in your holistic practice’s best interest to implement a no-show policy. Without one in place, you’re leaving money on the table and wasting your staff’s precious time.

What is a No-Show Policy?

A no-show is when a patient misses their scheduled appointment without informing your holistic practice; this is different from a cancellation, which accounts for the patient communicating their intentions with your practice.

Thus, a no-show policy is the set of guidelines, rules, and penalties that a practice implements to manage patients who intentionally - or unintentionally - miss their appointments. Such a policy discourages your patients from missing their appointments and therefore reduces the adverse impact of no-shows on your holistic practice.

The Effects of No-Show Appointments on Holistic Medical Practices

Simply put, appointment cancellations and no-shows bring only negative consequences to your holistic practice. A missed appointment means no revenue and leaves your knowledgeable staff idle – all cost and no compensation. Precious resources like time and money are wasted when a patient cancels last-minute or doesn’t stick to their appointment, which significantly impacts your practice’s bottom line. 

Strategies that aim to overcompensate for no-shows, like overbooking appointments, mean that your holistic practice can’t efficiently allocate its resources; essentially, such approaches can be fiscally irresponsible and result in the burnout of your staff.

What Are The Benefits of Creating a No-Show Policy?

Streamlines the Appointment Cancellation Process

Implementing a no-show policy helps your staff know what to do when patients don’t show up for their appointments. With an established protocol to refer to and communicate with patients, your employees can limit scheduling disruptions, handle follow-ups and rescheduling efficiently, and even fill empty time slots more quickly so your holistic practice won’t miss out on the income potential for that particular time window.  effects of no-show appointments

Discourages Patient No-Shows

Since a no-show policy informs patients of the fees they will incur if they don’t show up, it discourages them from missing their appointments. Without a no-show policy, patients have no accountability whatsoever that will encourage them to go to your clinic.

Boosts Revenue Cycle Management

Ideally, every appointment you set should bring you money. If your patients don’t show up for their appointments, you don’t get paid. The fewer no-shows your practice has, the fewer disruptions there are to your workflows! This means your holistic practice’s patient and team scheduling staff run smoothly since they won’t have to spend extra time overbooking each day in the event of no-show patients. All of this ultimately means you’ll be more profitable since your operations will be better streamlined to account for forgetful patients.

How to Write a No-Show Fee Policy

  1. Enable your patients to cancel in a convenient manner

Allow a timeframe for patients to cancel or move their appointments without getting penalized. Life happens, and it helps your patients to have the ability to cancel or reschedule their appointments on their time. When you add an appointment cancellation window in your no-show policy, you show your practice to be understanding and caring. That’s good for business, of course. You don’t want to be viewed as a holistic practice that nickels and dimes its patients!

  1. Establish fees for canceling - or to incentivize keeping the appointment 

Fees in a no-show policy will help deter patients from missing their appointments since they’ll know how much it’ll cost them; you can also utilize a type of reward system to incentivize patients who keep their appointments! Consider these points when writing your policy:

  • Straight fee: Every time patients miss their appointments, they’re charged a no-show fee
  • Reward system: Patients who show up on time and keep their appointments can get rewards, such as gift cards or other incentives, depending on your practice.
  • Fee erased upon return: A small fee is added to your patients’ bills when they don’t show up for their appointments; however, if patients reschedule and arrive on time, the fee is removed.
  1. Explain how your policies are enforced

Besides charging a fee, implement best practices that prevent patients from rescheduling if they exceed a specific number of missed appointments. For example, if you set a no-show limit of three appointments and your patient fails to show up for the fourth time, restrict their online or over-the-phone booking privileges. Be sure to send patient no-show letters to remind repeat offenders of the importance of keeping their appointments, and follow up on patients if they need to reschedule. Doing so discourages patients from missing their appointments without canceling, can minimize no-shows, and can reduce potential costly disruptions to your holistic practice’s workflows.

  1. Remind your patients of their appointments

Part of your policy should be outlining a timeline of when the patient will get reminders about their appointments. Patients can sometimes forget their appointments, hence the no-shows. Prevent a good chunk of no-shows by calling patients a few days before their schedule or sending them quick reminders. In your policy, list when these notifications might happen so they can expect to get them.

  1. Communicate your policies

Any new policy is only useful if the pertinent parties are aware of it! Ensure your patients know the consequences of missing appointments by communicating your no-call no-show policy. Below are a few common, yet effective, strategies to inform your patients about your policy.  no show fee policy

  • Display your no-show policy on your online booking portal so patients know the guidelines and associated fees if they miss their appointments without giving you notice.
  • When patients set appointments over the phone, ensure your employees inform them about your no-show policy. Your staff can say something like, “We look forward to seeing you. If you need to cancel your appointment, please do so within the next 24 hours to avoid getting charged the no-show fee of $25.”
  • Include your no-show policy on your website so your patients can access it easily. To get more bookings, add a link to your appointment form or include your phone number so your patients can set appointments immediately.

Without a solution in place to reschedule no-shows, improve cancellation management, and fill empty appointment slots, these tasks are wasting your staff’s valuable time. That’s time that could be spent providing a top-notch care experience, making each and every patient feel welcome, or helping patients coordinate care, or answering patient’s non-clinical questions. 

Since 1999, Holistic Billing Services has handled coding and billing issues for a variety of healthcare practices. We understand that each practice is unique and requires a customized solution that aligns with its long-term goals and increases its medical billing metrics. That’s why we work closely with our clients to help them set up holistic billing services and solutions that meet their specific needs and allows them to deliver the best care possible. To find out what we can do for your practice, contact our team today for a consultation.

August 2, 2021
 - by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

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