Nixing No-Shows

Patients who don’t show up can affect your bottom line. Here’s what you can do.

They are the bane of many medical practices: patients who just don’t show up for scheduled appointments. Even if you charge for missed appointments, the damage to your scheduling and your practice’s finances is done. How to prevent no-shows, or at least minimize the harm they do to your practice? Try the following.

  • Call them. According to a 2010 American Medical News study, no-show rates were lowest when patients had a call from an actual person in your practice.[1] Automated calls, emails, and texts were also effective, if somewhat less so.

  • Consider financial repercussions. While this is somewhat controversial, the threat of cancellation fees may help convince patients to show up for their appointments. Some practices charge a provisional fee on a visit, which is then removed when the patient shows up for a follow-up appointment. Others charge for the appointment if it hasn’t been cancelled more than 24 hours previously. Note that this charge may be more onerous for some patients than others. You might also consider a positive financial reward rather than a punishment, for instance a monthly or seasonal reward drawing for patients who come to appointments on time.

  • Know who’s missing appointments — and why. If there are particular patients that regularly miss appointments, identify them. Once you have a clear sense of whom you’re dealing with, you can help them more effectively.[2] Be sure your reminders are reaching them, and that you have their up-to-date contact information. Reinforce the importance of healthcare, and provide patient education materials to drive home your message. Studies show that targeting specific behaviors and groups of patients has been successful in other practices.[3]

  • Prevent problems. If you have a patient who frequently doesn’t show up for appointments, consider scheduling him or her when it will have the smallest effect on your schedule, either by making it the last appointment of the day or by scheduling another patient soon after.

  • Be a model. Try to see all of your patients in a timely manner, and thank them for their promptness, when applicable. Showing patients you respect their time may help them respect yours.[4]

More Insights eNews

Get helpful articles like this sent automatically to your inbox every month.

Subscribe to Healthcare Insights »

Get More Solutions for Healthcare Professionals.

Contact Us » »

Important Legal Disclosures and Information



  3. ibid.


The third-party trademarks referenced in these articles are owned by and are the registered trademarks of their respective third-party owners. There is no affiliation, sponsorship or endorsement relationship between PNC or its affiliates and any such third party.

 PNC is a registered mark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (‘‘PNC’’)

Business Insights for Dental Professionals/Business Insights for Healthcare Professionals is prepared for general information purposes by Manifest, LLC and is not intended as legal, tax or accounting advice or as recommendations to engage in any specific transaction, including with respect to any securities of PNC, and do not purport to be comprehensive. Under no circumstances should any information contained in the presentation, the webinar or the materials presented be used or considered as an offer or a commitment, or a solicitation of an offer or a commitment, to participate in any particular transaction or strategy, nor should it be considered legal advice. Any reliance upon any such information is solely and exclusively at your own risk. Please consult your own counsel, accountant or other advisor regarding your specific situation.

Neither PNC Bank nor any other subsidiary of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. will be responsible for any consequences of reliance upon any opinion or statement contained here, or any omission. The opinions expressed in these materials or videos are not necessarily the opinions of PNC Bank or any of its affiliates, directors, officers or employees. Banking and lending products and services, bank deposit products, and Treasury Management products and services for healthcare providers and payers are provided by PNC Bank, National Association, a wholly owned subsidiary of PNC and Member FDIC.

Lending and leasing products and services, including card services and merchant services, as well as certain other banking products and services, may require credit approval.