How to improve patient no-show rates

2 mins

There are many similarities between human and animal care. It can often be challenging to establish which learnings to take from one to the other.

One attractive area to look at is patient ‘no shows’, where an appointment is made, but the patient does not attend. These are not only inconvenient but also expensive for practices.

At Spaarne Hospital in the Netherlands, during 2011 alone,  as many as 18,000 appointments didn’t show. Spaarne Hospital decided that something needed to be done to improve this, so they opted for an active policy against no shows. Under their revised policy, an appointment reminder is sent by SMS text message two days before the appointment. If the patient does not attend, they are subject to a monetary fine.

“In the hospital, the no-show percentage in 2012 was about 4.5%. Almost two years later, the percentage reduced to just 0.2%. This is a huge financial gain.” – Steffen Grit, Spaarne Hospital business manager.

What can veterinary practices take from this?

There are a couple of elements at work here. The first is the threat of a monetary loss for the customer – the motivation not to be fined is self-explanatory. Remember that a missed appointment could cost your practice a consultation fee upwards of £50. If you don’t have a similar policy in place, you probably should consider it.

The second is the power of sending reminders via SMS text messages. This is something we have covered before, which we frequently hear from practices – text messages are one of the best ways to communicate – and best of all, sending appointment reminders via Animana is easy.

Interestingly, studies show that visitors receiving such reminder are more likely to;

  • arrive on time,
  • be better prepared,
  • postpone or cancel the appointment on time,

And perhaps most importantly – most customers viewed the text messages positively as an extra service.

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