I recently talked with a practice about their failed appointments. They said that they had about 400 cancelled appointments per month and 100 no-shows.
The practice admin said that they had no process in place for filling cancellations, so most of them went unfilled. I then asked her which was a bigger problem for her practice, no-shows or cancellations?
After chuckling, she replied no-shows. She admitted that although cancellations were causing her practice to lose 3x more revenue than no-shows, no-shows bothered her and the doctors more.
Numerically this doesn't track, yet many practices tell us the same thing. The numbers clearly show cancellations are a much bigger problem for a practice, but it's no-shows that bother them the most. Why?
A patient who says they will show up and doesn't, brings out anger in all of the office. Staff and providers were lied to. In the eyes of the office, the patient is saying they don't value their time enough to even call and cancel. That emotion causes no-shows to stick out much more in the brain of every individual in the office.
We even have our version of this. Sometimes a practice will no-show a meeting with us even after confirming the day before or even an hour before. Those instances are seared into our memories, whereas the time when practices cancel are not remembered.
That's Why Numbers Matter
Statistics are the port in the storm. Pulling a cancellation and no-show report for your practice can help overcome the emotional biases to drill down on which problem is really affecting your practice, devoid of emotion. For some practices, no-shows are actually worse, but for most practices, cancellations are a far bigger drain on revenue and time. Check the data, you may surprised!
Founder of QueueDr