• Dr. Ryan Corte

12 Reasons Why Patients No Show For Doctor’s Appointments

Updated: Aug 17

Why do patients no show to doctor’s appointments?


In this video, I share the top 12 reasons why patients don’t show up to doctor appointments so you can better prepare your practice.

No shows cost the healthcare industry billions of dollars a year!


Even more concerning, the patients that need care the most are the ones most likely to not show up to an appointment, putting even more burden on the healthcare system when a catastrophic event occurs.


Here are the top 12 reasons patients don’t show up to doctor’s appointments.


1) Lack of understanding of the condition

If the patient doesn't understand why they're coming back to see the doctor, they're less likely to show up for an appointment.


For example, if they have high blood pressure and don't understand some of the complications it can cause year over year, they may be less likely to come in to see their provider.


This is particularly the case if a condition isn't causing any immediate pain or discomfort.


2) When the condition improves or resolves

When the reason the patient came to see the doctor in the first place improves, they're less likely to come back for the follow-up appointment.


Some patients may find a follow-up to be a waste of their time or money unless you educate them on why they need to return.


3) Fear of the unknown

Your average patient is a little scared to come and see you. There is a lot to fear about something you know very little about.


They don't want to hear bad news such as that they have a chronic, life-changing illness or need surgery.


RELATED: The Real Impact of Patient No Shows in Healthcare


4) Forgetfulness

We're all busy and have a lot going. Your patients are no different.


It's easy to overlook an appointment, particularly if you miss the appointment reminder.


Pro tip: At my practice, we text, email, and call our patients to remind them of their appointment. It's been very effective and a strategy I recommend you look into.


5) Language barrier

When a patient speaks a language that isn't spoken throughout the practice, and they didn't have the time to secure a translator, they're less likely to show up to the appointment.


This should come as no surprise as they won't understand what you're telling them.


6) Child care

As a father of two young kids, I can tell they dictate a lot of my schedule.


If your patient doesn't have their kids in school or they don't have the appropriate child care, this can easily take priority to the appointment.


7) Transportation issues

Depending on where your practice is located, patients may face various transportation challenges to get to and from your office.


For example, their car could break down. Traffic could be horrendous. They could miss the train or bus. Parking at our near your office could be full.


8) Weather

When it rains or there are thunderstorms or snowstorms, you're going to see an increase in no-shows.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, if it's an absolutely gorgeous day outside, some patients won't show up because they're out enjoying the day.


9) Cost

If the patient is uninsured or hasn't met their deductible, they're less likely to show.


If the recommended procedure is very expensive or they can't afford the cost of an office visit, this can lead to an increase in no-shows as well.


RELATED: 9 Tips To Maximize the Patient Experience


10) Insurance coverage

Not all insurance plans are created equal. They keep changing and evolving every single year.


Unfortunately, insurance dictates a lot of the care that we can provide and leads to a lot of no-shows when the coverage isn't provided within a patient's plan.


11) Appointment time

If you're a very busy practice and you only have select appointment times available, this can lead to more no-shows.


For example, if your schedule is booked and your only available appointment times are in the middle of the patient's work day or when they have to drop their kids off at school, they will likely prioritize their life over the appointment.


12) Lead time

As a rule of thumb, the longer the lead time (i.e 3 months or more), the less likely the patient is going to show up for the appointment.


Final thoughts

Patients don't show up to appointments for a number of reasons. Knowing the main reasons why helps prepare your practice so you can best manage the schedule and serve the patients that do show up.


What are some reasons patients no show to your practice? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for my next video where we can reflect and grow stronger together.


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