Reduce DNAs : How to conquer patient non attendance

Posted 1 September 2016 in , tm3 news, business and marketing, clinical
Mairi Menzies of Callander Physiotherapy

The biggest headache and frustration for many clinics is cancellations and DNAs. You see, the thing is, no one wins with a cancellation or a DNA. The practitioner doesn’t practice and the patient misses out on the very treatment which will help them on the road to recovery. Also, they don’t get a chance to tell their friends how great your clinic is … so, it’s in everyone’s interest to get the patient to turn up and reduce DNAs!

A new patient cancelling is worth more than just one appointment

Managing cancellations and DNA’s used to be difficult with names scratched out of the diary or rubbed out if in pencil. Counting up at the end of the month used to be manual if done at all. Some clinics still ring each individual patient the day before their appointment! Historically, things have been fairly relaxed out there. But what if I told you that a new patient cancelling is not just that initial appointment cancelled but three! Yes, that’s right, it’s not just the one appointment you are missing out on it’s the other two to three appointments that would follow on from that, shall we call it £120? I’ll save you the time and do the math; let’s say three cancellations per week, that’s £18,720 per year!!! Thought that might get your attention! Also, what about the additional administrative burden of re-scheduling appointments? It soon adds up!

Why do patients cancel?

I’ve worked with many clinics and I can safely tell you that each clinic is different. It may be that more rural clinics have cancellations and DNA’s due to changes in a patients’ childcare, and for those who work in the city, no shows may be due to patients having important meetings at short notice. Besides simply forgetting (we’ve all done that!), one major reason for no-shows is that a patient wasn’t pleased with their last visit. This too needs managing as the patient who cancels without reason could be a complaint just waiting to happen. Hopefully, though your patients are excited and committed to their treatment plan! Of course, there are valid reasons for cancellations and DNA’s, we’ve all had good reason to inadvertently change plans at short notice. Tracking these reasons can help you look deeper and manage the situation so that attending appointments is as easy as possible. The vast majority of clinics run a discretionary cancellation and DNA policy, but some have strict rules when it comes to no-shows. Let’s take a look at a case study:

K2 Physio

Due to the location of the practice and its busy business focused client base, cancellations and DNA’s were not just a major headache but a financial drain. No shows were totalling up to 10 per week with estimated costs of £40(1) per no show - that’s £20,800 per year. The solution to managing and reducing this was to send out text reminders the day before appointments. The 24 hour cancellation policy could now be enforced and cancellations and DNA’s were charged. This caused a reduction in DNAs by 80%. That’s impressive. A simple solution for a serious problem.

Creative Engagement

Some of the more creative clinics also use text to send special offers or news to patients. It’s a great way to engage with your client base. All of this can be automatically scheduled avoiding the need for the receptionist to call each patient the day before their appointment or even forgetting to do it at all. It’s a win-win situation! If you are not sure, just give it a try with your first 30 days completely free(2) and see your cancellations and DNA’s become a thing of the past.

1 This cost is an example figure
2 New TM2/ TM3 Text customers only, and only reminder and confirmation texts included.

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