How to Reduce PT Patient No-Shows

Patient no-shows aren’t just headaches for physical therapists. They waste time and leave gaps in your schedule. Here are simple tips to reduce patient no-shows and promote care compliance.

How to Reduce PT Patient No-Shows and Promote Care Compliance

Every physical therapist has seen it before: Patients schedule appointments, but they don’t show up. Then, your office staff has to play phone tag with the patient all day to try to reschedule the appointment to stay compliant with their care plan.

Patient no-shows aren’t just headaches for physical therapists. They waste time and leave gaps in your schedule, but more importantly, they make it harder to care for patients and keep them on the path to recovery.

By some estimates, patients skipping appointments costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $150 billion every year. It’s a significant problem for all providers, but it’s especially damaging for physical therapists because consistency is key to healing entirely and regaining mobility.

Patients miss appointments for all sorts of reasons — they’re worried about paying for the appointment, they live far away from your practice, or they forget, just to name a few — but here are some simple tips to help physical therapists reduce patient no-shows and promote care compliance.

Sending PT Appointment Reminders

Even the most thoughtful and responsible of us forget things from time to time. And that happens to patients, too. Appointment reminders are a proven, tried-and-true solution for reducing patient no-shows. They’re simple, effective, and inexpensive. 

You can have your office staff call each patient to remind them about their upcoming appointment, but while it’s effective, it’s not always practical. Reaching out to patients takes a lot of time and pulls your staff away from the patients that are physically in your office for treatment. 

Text appointment reminders are a faster way to reach your patients, and you can automate them so that you don’t have to think about it. If your patients need to reschedule, they can text back, giving you time to rearrange your schedule to avoid significant gaps. 

Practices using Zingit for text appointment reminders report saving upwards of 15 hours per month and increased show rates over 90%.

See how Zingit’s recalls and appointment reminders have helped Health First Chiropractic & Wellness treat 60 more patients a week.

Educating Patients Before the Appointment

If patients truly understand why their continued physical therapy treatment is key to their long-term mobility, they’re more likely to show up for their appointments. The key is patient education. 

With an intelligent patient engagement platform like Zingit, you can send patients automated education content before their appointment. With an automated text message, your patients can learn about your practice and get details about their treatment plan. This kind of transparency helps patients understand how no-shows can impact their recovery. 

Short educational videos are a great way to introduce yourself, share other patient testimonials, and explain the patient’s care plan.

Setting (and Enforcing) Your No-Show Policy

Text appointments and patient education can help push your show rate well above 90%, but if you’re still struggling with the other 10% of appointments, it might be time to reconsider your no-show policy.

Virtually every practice has a standard appointment cancellation or no-show policy, but many don’t enforce it. In fact, an MGMA study found that 41% of the patients they surveyed about missing appointments said that they were unaware of their doctor’s no-show policy. 

When patients schedule appointments, be sure to include an overview of your cancellation policy, including any financial penalties. Ultimately, charging your patients for missed appointments isn’t ideal, but when you’re responsible for their compliance with their care plan, it might be necessary. 

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