When new patients seek an appointment they are usually looking to solve an immediate problem. Long wait lists are discouraging and stressful and can lead to the loss of new patients.
Patients will often shop around balancing between doctor reputation and timeliness of the appointment. At what point are patients more likely to not show up for appointments scheduled too far out?
In our experience, this varies based on location, patient demographics, and specialty. However, a good rule of thumb is 15 days. New referrals scheduled more than 15 days out will be fairly likely to cancel.
Although this number will vary from practice to practice and from specialty to specialty, reducing the number of new patients scheduled more than 15 days out is a good place to start. Below you will find a simple chart from one of our clients and their experience with new referrals.
According to a study done by ZocDoc, 50% of the 2,200 U.S. adults said they cancelled because of work conflicts. The further out appointments are scheduled, the less likely someone is to be able to predict their work schedule.
What's worse is that 25% of respondents reported that if they can't schedule a timely appointment with the first call, they will wait weeks until trying to reschedule. Forty-three percent reported they would rather self-diagnose online than try to make an appointment when sick. Wait times, as they currently are, are causing a disillusionment with the need to see a doctor, and according to the study "Why We Don't Come: Patient Perceptions on No-Shows", a feeling of disrespect from healthcare providers--which further makes patients feel not obligated to keep appointments.
We'd love to learn more about your practice's challenges and pain points around scheduling workflow, wait lists, and cancellation management. Follow this link to participate in a 2 minute survey and for the chance to receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card.
Don't forget to check back for our upcoming post with the results!
Tashfeen Ekram, MD, is a radiologist, self-taught coder, healthcare innovator and Co-Founder of Luma Health. Contact him on Twitter at @tashfeenekramMD.