How To Not Charge For No-Show (By Training Your Patients To Comply With No-Show Cancellation Policy)

Last week I wrote a piece on charging cancellation fees to patients who no-show without notice, and finishing on time even though a patient comes late (and even if you have an empty slot after).

It may sound like I’m being harsh/hard on the patients, but if you study the business processes and flow and operations, the no-show and late policy trains patients to come on time and/or inform us in advance if they can’t make it – so we can free up the slots for other patients who are waiting for that slot.

I don’t like doing this as much as you do, but it’s an important business decision that we made after testing, and the results were amazing:

  • Patients started coming on time and the amount of no-show dropped by about 50%
  • The therapists started becoming happier because they knew that we (management/owners) are looking out for them, as they are mainly revenue-sharing basis
  • The front counter got happier because there is a reduction of patients that were habitual latecomers/no-shower

That being said, we expose this policy to all new patients, in every SMS reminders and notice at the counter, so that it becomes a norm to patients and therapists and front counter, and as they inculcate this habit, it becomes a norm for the patients to come on time or inform us otherwise.

Today, we have less than 1% of patients who are habitual latecomers and no-showers.

I hired a clinic manager to speak in person who are flagged up by our front desk if any patients are found to have canceled 2x in a row be it last minute no show or within the 12 hours period, to find out if everything was ok and to ensure that their rehab is not sidelined.

Did you miss the hint of how we did it?

It’s in this paragraph:

That being said, we expose this policy to all new patients, in every SMS reminders and notice at the counter, so that it becomes a norm to patients and therapists and front counter, and as they inculcate this habit, it becomes a norm for the patients to come on time or inform us otherwise.

We expose this policy to patients as often as we can:

  1. First timers are first exposed to it in the first SMS appointment reminder, 12 hours before their actual therapy appointment
  2. First timers are briefed on it in person and in writing when they fill up the New Patient Form
  3. The policy is printed and placed at front counter where patients can see everytime they pass the counter to make appointments or pay.
  4. Every future SMS reminders also contain the summarized version of the policy
  5. If patient misses an appointment, they will be called by the front counter to facilitate rescheduling, and the front desk is tasked to verbally remind the patient of this policy

This policy is something that I will likely not remove from my therapy businesses…ever. It’s THAT important and useful for the business.

At this point in writing since January 2018, I am not affiliated to any therapy businesses whatsoever as I've stepped down from Urbanrehab management and leadership position though I am still a significant minority; and am taking a sabbatical to spend time with children, wife and family; pondering my next steps and I hope to publish some books if possible.

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