Reducing Cancellations by Setting Clear Expectations on the Phone

Many healthcare practices are currently experiencing a high rate of last-minute cancellations leading up to scheduled appointments. To minimize the number of cancellations and no-shows, it's important to review expectations with patients on the phone prior to their visit and take a proactive approach to ensuring your patients arrive for their appointment on time.

Below are five proven recommendations to expertly leverage the phone to reduce last-minute cancellations and no-shows.

  1. Offer detailed directions for getting to your practice and remind patients what to bring to the appointment.

    Many patients experience anxiety before medical appointments. Much of this anxiety stems from being unsure what to expect on the day of their visit. Therefore, especially for new patients, it's important to share detailed directions regarding how to get to the the office, what type of parking is available, what to expect when they walk into the office building, how early to arrive before the scheduled appointment time, and what to bring with them (such as insurance cards, IDs, medical records, etc.).

  2. Provide any known expectations for the visit itself.

    Similarly, it's a best practice to give patients a general idea of what to expect during the visit itself, if known. Will a nurse or assistant be taking the patient back? Will the patient be seen by a doctor during this visit? How long is the appointment expected to take? What type of tests or imaging might be done? Is payment required up-front for the visit? Are there any restrictions to be aware of before or after the appointment?

  3. Explain current health and safety protocols in place.

    With current restrictions due to COVID-19, most practices have altered their typical appointment procedures to account for social distancing, temperature checks, cleaning protocols, and more. Let patients know how this visit might look different than their previous visits and what you're doing to ensure their health and safety is prioritized.

  4. Remind patients of their upcoming visit via multiple forms of communication.

    Many practices rely on one form of communication to remind patients of an upcoming visit. Instead, leverage multiple forms such as a phone call, text message, and/or email to ensure patients have been well-informed of their upcoming appointment. Furthermore, use this outreach to answer any outstanding questions the patient has, repeat expectations for the visit itself, and explain how to reschedule the appointment if anything comes up.

  5. Explain the practice's policies on cancellations and how to go about rescheduling, if necessary.

    While you always hope a patient won't need to cancel his or her appointment, it's important to lay out your practice's policies on how to go about cancelling and/or rescheduling the visit. Let patients know you understand that scheduling conflicts happen and things come up. In the event they need to cancel, how can patients go about rescheduling? Should they call the practice directly? Do you charge for the visit if it is cancelled in under 24 hours? In laying out clear expectations, you reduce the risk of no-shows and can ideally find a time that works better with the patient's schedule.

If you'd like to talk further about best practices for setting clear expectations on the phone and how to leverage the phone to improve your show rates, email content@callbox.com to schedule time to special with a Call Box Specialist.