My associates and I seem to be having more than our fair share of no-shows. How do we combat this? Is overbooking the answer?
ANSWER: Patients who skip scheduled appointments without notice definitely ruin a practice's efficiency, but overbooking can backfire when all your scheduled patients do show up.
To combat this problem, you need to know why people don't show up. Here are the top six reasons for no-shows and my suggested solutions:
Solution: Confirm patient appointments 24 hours in advance.
They can't pay for the visit and are embarrassed to discuss it.
Solution: Offer an extended payment plan as part of your office policy.
They don't have transportation to the office.
Solution: Provide transportation for elderly and indigent patients, maybe hiring a limo service 1 day a week.
They know your office always overbooks, so they think you won't miss them.
Solution: Reform your reputation. Notify patients when you're running behind and give them an estimated waiting time. Respect your patients' time and they'll respect yours by cancelling in advance.
5. They think the examination will be uncomfortable, and they won't be able to return to work.
Solution: See patients who need dilated exams at the end of their workday or on their day off.
They no longer need to be seen.
Solution: If patients have to wait too long for an appointment, self-limiting conditions will resolve, or patients will see someone else who can examine them sooner. Improve practice efficiency or add an associate.
No practice can boast 100% patient attendance every day. But incorporating some of these suggestions will keep your no-shows to a minimum.
Farkas, M.S., O.D., F.A.A.O., Alumnus, PCO
Hanging Your Shingle in Cyberspace
QUESTION: How important is it for an eyecare practice to have a Web site? Is it worth the investment?
According to a Harris Interactive Poll, 110 million adults in the United States have searched the Internet for health information. Your patients are probably among them. You can keep present and future patients from taking a wrong turn on the information superhighway by developing a comprehensive, educational Web site. A well-designed Web site sets your practice apart from others and establishes you as a state-of-the-art eyecare professional. What should you include?
At the minimum, your Web site should:
- Describe your services
- List office hours and policies
- Include a directory of staff members
- Provide directions, including a map to your office.
Other features that may appeal to prospective patients include:
- A brief history and philosophy of your practice
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- Online appointment scheduling.
Personalize your Web page by including photographs, CVs and short biographies for you and your staff. Patients will feel welcome and may be less anxious about trying a new eyecare provider.
Finally, remember to update your Web site regularly. Adding new content, such as an online contact lens order form or links to vision information sites, keeps people coming back to find out what's new.
Putting your practice online is easier than ever -- and by any measure, a good investment in your future.
Author "201 Secrets of a High
Performance Optometric Practice" (Butterworth-Heinemann)
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2004