Sales Intelligence AI for sales insights and conversation intelligence

Dos and don’ts of patient scheduling


Facebook Twitter Linkedin Copy link post URL copied
4 min read

The healthcare industry loses $150 billion per year to no-show patients. On average, clinics and practices have a no-show rate of almost 19 percent. For clinics, that means they lose revenue on almost one out of every five patients. 

Dr. Tashfeen Ekram, physician and entrepreneur, came up with a formula to estimate the cost of no-shows for providers: 

18.8% no-show rate x 21 appointment slots per day x $150 (the average value of an appointment) x 264 business days per year = $156,340.80 per provider, per year

However, that’s only the cost of the patient not showing up for an appointment. Ekram points out that there are other, hidden costs the formula doesn’t cover.

For a start, how many of the patients who don’t show up reschedule their appointments? Anecdotally, we know the number is low. Moreover, it costs your practice time (which translates into money) to book appointments for patients who don’t come in. Studies show that staff spends an average of 8.1 minutes per phone call to schedule appointments, which adds up:

8.1 minutes x 18.8% no-show rate x 21 appointment slots per day = 31.9 minutes per provider, per day 

No matter how large your practice is, you can’t afford to waste over $150,000 per year due to no-show patients. However, there are steps you can take to cut down your no-show rate. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you streamline patient scheduling and reduce the number of no-shows in your practice.

Dos for Scheduling Appointments 

  • Use the right tools; a cloud-based HITRUST CSF Certified healthcare communications platform ensures that your ePHI is secure.
  • Schedule automated SMS reminders to be sent to patients 24 hours before appointments.
  • Choose cloud communication solutions that integrate with your EMR or PMS systems.
  • Ensure the appointment’s efficiency with increased real-time collaboration between healthcare staff. A HITRUST CSF Certified cloud healthcare communications system allows the care team to video conference, share screens, and securely message one another so that nothing falls through the cracks during patient care. 
  • Leverage secure conferencing tools to prepare as needed ahead of patient encounters, to discuss patient cases and ensure an extended team has the most up-to-date information.
  • Enhance your patient portal with integrated telephony features. For example, after securely logging in to your portal, a patient could launch a live video or web chat with an assigned Patient Care Navigator for questions or other needs. These capabilities enable practices to increase portal adoption rates across their patient populations.
  • Establish an omnichannel patient access center (powered by a cloud contact center), so patients can request appointments via text message, email, or phone calls. This increases flexibility and gives patients greater freedom in how they communicate with your facility.
  • Leave same-day appointment slots open, so that patients who need to see providers urgently can do so.
  • Share your latest policy or your cancellation policy with patients, so they understand there will be consequences for not showing up on time or not showing up at all.
  • Decide which scheduling method works best for your providers and facility. Does it make more sense to schedule patients back to back, leaving a block of time for the provider to catch up on notes or other paperwork, or is it better to build in time between appointments for the provider to carry out these activities? 
  • Differentiate between new and existing patient appointments and how those inbound calls are routed and managed. New patients require more time, and existing patients do not want to feel like new patients when they schedule—your cloud communications platform will tell you the difference and can present existing patient data at the time of the call.

Download RingCentral’s Patient Scheduling Framework

Don’ts for Scheduling Appointments 

  • Don’t keep patients waiting on the phone; a HITRUST CSF Certified cloud healthcare communications system routes calls intelligently at small and large facilities alike, so patients reach a staff member to schedule appointments.
  • Don’t force patients to schedule an appointment to get answers to their questions; a patient access center agent can send doctors patient questions through secure SMS.
  • Don’t assume that just because you have a smaller practice, you can’t take advantage of a HITRUST CSF Certified cloud healthcare communications platform. For any-sized  practice, a cloud communications platform will help manage incoming calls by sending them to defined staff and devices (front office phone, mobile phone, or a laptop computer) simultaneously.
  • Don’t choose a communications platform that requires a local, on-site system with poor voice quality. You don’t want your patients to get frustrated when they can’t hear your staff members—or vice versa.
  • Don’t make it difficult for staff to follow up with patients who haven’t shown up for appointments. An omnichannel communications system allows staff to communicate securely through text, voice, and email so your practice can retain patients.
  • Don’t ignore patient scheduling trends at your facility. If you see a spike in no-shows, or if you notice patients waiting longer and longer for their appointments, get to the bottom of the issue. You can’t afford to lose patients.
  • Don’t assume that an existing patient only needs a short appointment. Sometimes, existing patients have more complicated medical needs than they realize, and the appointment winds up taking longer as a result.

RingCentral: Streamlining Patient Scheduling

The right tools go a long way in ensuring efficient patient scheduling. RingCentral’s HITRUST CSF Certified cloud healthcare communications system helps you reduce the rate of no-shows thanks to features like its automatic SMS notifications. Moreover, small and large practices can implement RingCentral so that they don’t miss patient calls. 

Because the HITRUST Common Security Framework provides organizations with a comprehensive, flexible, and efficient approach to regulatory compliance and risk management, it’s been widely adopted around the world by a variety of industries. RingCentral gives providers peace of mind because it’s HITRUST CSF Certified. Deliver the ideal patient experience. See how cloud communications are transforming healthcare. Get the demo.

Originally published Feb 19, 2020, updated Apr 18, 2021

Up next


Making the business case for a better patient experience

The healthcare industry pays more attention to the concept of patient experience today than ever before. Healthcare organizations see the value in a positive patient experience; it leads to better outcomes for patients and increased revenue over the long term. Yet, there are many healthcare organizations that still don’t know what steps to take to ...


Facebook Twitter Linkedin Copy link post URL copied

Related content