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No show Patient: Strategies for Handling Patients Who Don't Show Up for their Surgical Procedure

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

In the healthcare industry, nothing is more unpleasant than canceling a patient’s appointment. Unfortunately, it can be unavoidable in certain circumstances. Sometimes patients need to reschedule their surgical procedure for personal reasons or circumstances out of their control. In most cases, surgery appointments will need to be canceled with plenty of advanced notice. However, there may occasionally be times when a patient does not show up for their surgical procedure appointment without any prior warning. As a result, you may need to reschedule the appointment without any advanced notice. This article discusses some strategies that you can implement if a patient doesn’t show up for their surgical procedure at your practice and outlines helpful tips on how to handle these situations confidently and professionally. If the procedure was a surgical procedure that required the surgeon's presence, then remember to communicate with the surgeon about the "no show" or cancelation. Their schedules are impacted negatively, just the same as the surgery centers would be impacted. Both of which a loss of revenue for the day.


Cartoon character young boy failed to show up for his surgical procedure.

Patient No Show: Communicate with the Patient

Communication is the most important strategy if a patient doesn’t show up for their surgical procedure. You’ll need to reach out to the patient and attempt to speak with them about the missed appointment. When you call, be sure to keep calm and not get upset with the patient about their absence. Start the conversation by confirming the patient’s contact information. Let the patient know that you noticed they missed their appointment and ask why they weren’t able to make it. Again, try to keep the conversation as calm and professional as possible. If you do reach the patient, let them know that you would be happy to reschedule their appointment at a time that works best for them.



No show patients

If a patient cancels or misses their appointment, try to reschedule their surgical procedure at a later date. It’s important to understand how soon you can reschedule patients’ appointments, though. Some practices may have strict guidelines for scheduling patients’ surgical procedures. In other cases, you may be able to reschedule patients’ appointments as soon as a cancellation occurs. If the patient’s surgery needs to happen at a specific time, you’ll need to reschedule the appointment as soon as possible. If you have a lot of cancellations and no open appointment slots, you may need to accept walk-in patients if you want to stay operational. If a patient can’t make their original appointment date, try to reschedule their surgical procedure for a later date. There may be other patients who need their surgery sooner, though, so rescheduling will come down to how many open appointment slots you have.



Offer a Replacement Service

If you’re canceling or rescheduling a patient’s surgical procedure, you may want to offer them a replacement service. This could be a complimentary exam or treatment, a gift card, or something else that helps compensate for the inconvenience. The type of service you offer will depend on the type of surgical procedure that was scheduled. For example, if a patient has an eye exam scheduled and misses the appointment, you may want to offer them a free eye exam. Or, if it was a cosmetic/plastic procedure, then maybe the abdominal post-op garment that they go home in after surgery to promote healing and reduce swelling and bruising. No show patients can be challenging.



Classical actress who wants to set up an appointment for surgery.

Document and Follow up With the Patient

If a patient cancels or misses their surgical procedure appointment and you can’t get in touch with them, document the missed appointment in your scheduling software. Let the patient know that you need to cancel their appointment and why. Be sure to follow up with the patient to see if they would like to reschedule the appointment at a later date.



Use Core Tools to Find Out Why Patients Don’t Show Up

If a patient is canceling or missing their surgical procedure appointment, you can use the online tools provided by your scheduling software to find out why patients don’t show up. There may be an option to select why the patient is canceling or missing their appointment. This will allow you to understand what is causing patients to miss their appointment and cancel their surgery. Once you identify the cause for missed appointments, you can take steps to prevent this from happening in the future. If patients are canceling or missing their appointment due to the weather, for example, you may want to offer to reschedule the appointment for another day if you believe the weather is going to be bad.



Conclusion

Patients canceling or missing their surgical procedure appointments are frustrating and can be difficult to manage. When this happens, you’ll need to communicate with the patient, try again at a later date, and offer a replacement service if possible. You can also use the online tools provided by your scheduling software to find out why patients don’t show up. Once you identify the cause, you can take steps to prevent this from happening in the future.

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