Dealing with No Shows and Lateness

Busy as physicians are just trying to keep up with the sheer numbers of patients they have to see a day, the smallest delay can throw the whole day off. Inevitably, though, there will always be those patients who are late or do not show.

Busy as physicians are just trying to keep up with the sheer numbers of patients they have to see a day, the smallest delay can throw the whole day off. Inevitably, though, there will always be those patients who are late or do not show.

Over at Physician’s Practice, Audrey “Christie” McLaughlin, RN, wrote about dealing with frequently late patients (a companion to last week’s piece on reducing no shows). After all, running a practice is a customer service business, so it’s best to try and fix the problem before resulting to simply dismissing a patient.

There will always be no shows or patients who are 20 minutes late (or even later). Sometimes they have legitimate excuses (family emergencies, forgot or wrote down the appointment wrong, etc.), but sometimes they’re chronic offenders.

In last week’s post, McLaughlin had offered possible ways to reduce the number of no shows or late patients using simply tactics like calling all patients the day before, having a policy or knowing how to handle situations on a case-by-case basis.

But what happens when nothing you do seems to work? Verbal or written warnings can help, but a little trickery won’t go amiss. For instance, McLaughlin recommends telling a patient his or her appointment is half an hour earlier than scheduled.

Chronic lateness might not be a reason to dismiss a patient for some physicians as it’s an awfully severe measure. However, Jeff Brown, MD, lists frequently not showing up as one of the indications for dismissing a patient. The other indications are more obvious of a disruptive patient: rude and/or abusive, continually non-compliant and not paying bills.

Ultimately, you have to find what works for your practice, make sure all employees know and use the policies, and stick to them.

Read more:

Increasing Patient Adherence

Simple Methods to Reduce No Shows at Your Medical Practice - Physician's Practice

Dealign with Frequently Late Patients - Physician's Practice