Are you tired of getting leads into your office, only to have patients not show up to their appointment? Missed appointments can be a severe financial impediment to the success of your ophthalmology practice. These 13 Must-Do Steps will stop Ophthalmology patient no shows and are guaranteed to change your practice for the better.
1. Build Your Brand – It Reduces Cancelations
When confronted with the problem of patient no-shows, you will find yourself asking the question, why aren’t people showing up?
The heart of this problem comes from the fact that your new patient doesn’t know you yet.
Think of it like this, if a stranger invited you to their house, what’s the chance of you showing up?
So you see, that’s why branding matters. The more they get to know you, the less you feel like a stranger and more like a real person.
With the competition around your business growing now more than ever, branding is everything. Patients are going to show up to the ophthalmology clinic that has the most trustworthy brand.
In order to build the right brand for your business, you need to think about the patient journey from beginning to end. This starts with the first time they see your ad and ends with how they are interacted with post appointment.
Your goal should be to build trust with your patients and understand their pains. Just because someone fills out your landing page form with their name, email, and phone number doesn’t mean that they are going to show up.
2. Personalize Your Ads – It’s Easy and Effective
A common mistake local clinics make when running advertisements is not personalizing their ads. It is important that you stay away from using any kind of stock photos in your advertisement because your audience can view it as disingenuine. Instead, we recommend using staff photos, clinic photos, and photos of the front desk to make your ad more personal for the viewer.
Using real photos from your practice is critical to running an effective advertising strategy and developing the right connection with your potential new patients. We recommend including photos of the physician and receptionist at your clinic. Your patients need to see that you are a real and trustworthy clinic in your advertisements. This is a simple yet powerful way of making patients more likely to show up to appointments and stop ophthalmology patient no shows.
3. Have a Robust Automated Reminder Process
Once a patient has signed up for a consultation with your clinic, it is extremely important that you have the right automated reminder process in place.
Often times the front desk at your clinic can get busy and you can’t always rely on them to follow up with patients 100% of the time.
To fix this we recommend your automated reminder process send a text, email, and voicemail as soon as a patient signs up for a consultation. Once the patient is scheduled for an appointment, they should receive a text and an email.
Once it is the day before the appointment, we recommend sending the patient a voicemail, text message, and email reminder of the date and time of their appointment. We also suggest your clinic make an additional phone call to the patient the day before the appointment as well. This may seem like a lot at first but it is crucial that the patient is reminded of when their appointment is.
With the number of reminders being sent, you might ask yourself, what if the patients get annoyed?
The people who end up getting annoyed with the reminders most likely weren’t going to show up to the appointment in the first place. If someone has booked an appointment and filled out the form, we find that they really appreciate the automated reminders as well. Lastly, we advise sending one last text message to the patient on the day of the appointment.
If you don’t currently have an automated reminder process set up, we recommend using Zapier as they offer a free version for you to try.
4. Use Branding and Retargeting Videos
Creating branding videos and retargeting videos can be one of the most effective ways to limit patient no shows. As soon as someone opts in for a consultation we recommend targeting them with reminder videos.
We find it effective to send them a video of the doctor thanking the patient for scheduling the appointment. This video should also inform the patient about what they can expect during the appointment. Use this as an opportunity to get your brand across to your patient by including videos of the office and front desk.
The objective of these videos should be to make the patient feel comfortable with the doctor and the clinic. Patients that don’t show up to appointments oftentimes don’t realize that they are wasting people’s time, energy, and efforts. It is extremely important to stay in front of this, delivering value and making patients comfortable upfront.
5. Build Trust With Testimonials
In order to further build your brand as reputable and trustworthy, you should showcase testimonials to your first-time patients. To do this you can create videos with past patients who recommend your clinic to others. These testimonials should include how you have helped patients in the past.
Showcase these videos to patients who are opting into your consultation and include them on your website and social media pages. These videos can also serve as great retargeting and brand video advertisements. Additionally, we suggest taking specific quotes from testimonials and showing them on your website as well as in your ads. This will help new patients trust you and be more comfortable coming into your clinic.
6. Deliver Value Pre Appointment
Delivering value before your patient comes in for their appointment is critical in ending patient no shows. An excellent way to deliver value pre-appointment can be to send custom emails to your patients explaining what their treatment is going to look like. This custom email should explain in detail the procedures and tests the patient will receive related to the reason for their appointment. You can create several custom emails ahead of time for the various procedures that your clinic offers. Once a patient signs up for an appointment, you can easily send them the email related to their problem.
Patients can read the information provided in the email before their appointment to ease any worries they may have about receiving treatment. The email should also include the description of your practice, the physicians in your clinic, directions to your clinic, registration forms needed, and the clinic’s no-show policy. This will help build trust from your patients and inform them about what to expect during their appointment. This will drastically help to stop ophthalmology patient no shows.
7. Allow Prepaid Appointments
Another way that you can end patient no-shows for your ophthalmology clinic is by allowing patients to pay for their appointments ahead of time. This has proven to be extremely effective by adding extra incentive for the patient to show up. To increase the number of patients that do this you can offer a small discount on your landing page for those who pay ahead of time.
When patients commit the money ahead of time, they are much more likely to show up to the appointment. Once the money is committed ahead of time, if the patient ends up missing their appointment, you are still paid for the time reserved for that appointment. This is an effective way to reduce the number of patients that cancel their appointments.
8. Follow Up With Patients Who Miss An Appointment
Once a patient misses an appointment we recommend following up with them immediately after. Sometimes a patient can have something important come up last minute and not be able to make it. Sending a text message informing them of their missed appointment and reminding them of your missed appointment policy is a great way to ensure they don’t miss more appointments in the future.
If you decide to charge patients who miss an appointment a fee, you should inform them of the amount that they have been charged. You should also encourage them to contact you as soon as possible to reschedule a new appointment. Often times patients who miss their appointment do not do so intentionally. These patients may feel bad or embarrassed for missing the appointment so following up with them is a good way to show them that they are still welcome to come into the clinic.
9. Thank Patients Who Keep Appointments and Arrive On Time
Just like when a patient misses an appointment, we recommend following up with a patient who keeps appointments and shows up on time. Thanking them for coming to the appointment is a guaranteed way to make sure they keep showing up to appointments on time. This is an effective way for the management of your ophthalmology clinic to further build on patient and physician relationships.
Additionally, for patients who are regulars at your clinic, you can also send out cards for birthdays and various holidays. Doing this is an easy way to retain regular patients and let them know that they are valued by your clinic. This will reflect greatly on your brand as a whole and let the patient know that their commitment and timeliness are appreciated.
10. Charge Patients a Fee For Missed Appointments
Another way to stop patients from not showing up to appointments is to charge them a fee for each appointment that they miss. This fee does not make up for the cost of the missed appointment, however, the fee acts as a great deterrent for missed appointments. This works especially well for patients who are prone to making appointments and not keeping them.
If you decide to charge patients a fee for missed appointments, it’s important that you inform them how much the fee is when they schedule the appointment. You should also inform the patient the latest time before their appointment that they are allowed to cancel without being fined. We recommend setting a fee of around $50 for missed appointments. The amount that you charge patients is up to your clinic and can also be increased for appointments that take up more time than average appointments.
11. Decrease Wait Room Times
With so much going on in patients day to day lives, the amount of time that a patient has to wait to see a doctor can have a tremendous impact on your clinic. An ophthalmology clinic that makes patients wait for 20 – 40 minutes to see a physician can deter patients from scheduling and showing up to appointments in the future.
If you as a doctor don’t value your patients time, why should they value yours?
This is the question every patient who is burdened with long wait times asks themselves. Long wait times in your waiting room are a recipe for disaster. Not only will patients begin to not show up for appointments, but you could lose the patient entirely.
To fix this common problem amongst ophthalmology clinics, you should aim to have your average wait time below 20 minutes. This will increase patient satisfaction and decrease the amount of no shows and cancellations of appointments. Spending the time to decrease wait times won’t go unnoticed and will help further build value for your brand.
12. Give Patients Appointments ASAP
When patients call your clinic they are looking to book an appointment through your receptionist as soon as possible. Knowone likes waiting days or even weeks in order to see a doctor.
The longer you make your patients wait to get an appointment, the more likely they are to forget about it and not show up.
In order to ensure your patients don’t wait too long, management should inform the receptionist to schedule appointments with patients at their earliest availability. It is also important that you refrain from double-booking patients as this will create a bad image of your brand. This will lead to longer wait times when they arrive for their appointment and negatively impact your business.
We recommend trying to work new patients and patients with urgent needs in as early as possible. You should aim to book appointments with these patients within 1-5 days of their call. The reason to prioritize these patients is that they represent new potential lifetime patients for your clinic. The sooner you work them into your schedule, the more likely they will show up to their appointment and continue being a patient at your clinic in the future.
13. Collect and Analyze Patient Data
Keeping track of the different types of patients who come into your clinic can provide you with an enormous amount of data related to patients not showing up to appointments. Recording information on first-time patients and repeat patients can help you better schedule your time effectively. You should collect data on different characteristics of patients such as when they called, the time of their appointment, provider, age group, and payer type.
Once you have collected about a month worth of data you can look for correlations between those characteristics and patient no shows. By grouping these patients based on their characteristics, you can learn to schedule certain groups of patients on specific days they might be more likely to show up. For example, if a large percentage of your no shows occur on a specific day, you can try to schedule different groups of people on that day instead. By collecting and analyzing enough data you can ensure you are running your clinic as efficiently as possible.