Practices have always had to deal with a small number of clients who don’t show up for their appointments and don’t call to let the practice know they won’t be coming. While annoying, it’s mostly happened so infrequently that it hasn’t caused real harm to the practice. Over the last few years, some practices have reported an increasing number of no-shows, and with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, no-shows in some practices have increased dramatically. This month’s Insiders’ Insights survey questions explore this topic.
When asked: “Have you had an increased number of clients no-show their appointment since the pandemic started?” It’s clearly a problem with just over 50% saying yes.
While this problem of increased no-shows is occurring with both new clients and current clients, it’s clearly more of an issue with new clients and practices are handling the two groups differently.
About 10% of practices are requiring new clients to leave a deposit when they book their appointment, and another 6% sometimes do. Most of these hospitals instituted this policy after the pandemic started, although 28% had the policy in place prior to the pandemic.
There is a lot of variation in the dollar amount charged for the deposit, but the majority of practices use the amount of their exam fee as the deposit amount. More than 51% said their new client deposit is refundable if the client cancels or misses their appointment.
Of course, many practices are concerned about client backlash to charging a new client a deposit; however, 88% of survey respondents say new clients are ok with it.
Of the 85% of practices that are not requiring a deposit from new clients - 46% say they don’t because it is not a big problem, 43% say it would not be acceptable, and 12% said it would be too much effort.
When asked if the new client deposit reduced the number of no-shows, 79% of practices said yes, and 14% reported no difference.
As with new client deposits, most practices also don’t charge an after the fact no-show fee, 76%. Most of those that do have this policy don’t charge the fee even if the client cancels on short notice (less than 24 hours.)
Whereas most of the practices who charge a new client deposit implemented that policy after the pandemic started, the majority of practices who charge a no-show fee already had that policy in place. Forty percent who do charge a no-show fee charge the amount of their exam fee.
Interestingly, clients had more of a negative reaction to this fee than to the new client deposit requirement. Thirty-five percent of practices said clients react someone negatively, and 40% clients were ok with it.
When asked if the no-show fee reduced the number of no-shows, 28% of practices said yes, and 46% reported no difference.
Of the 76% of practices that are not charging a no-show fee - 42% say they don’t because it is not a big problem, 45% say it would not be acceptable, and 25% said it would be too much effort.
For more survey details, read the full Insiders’ Insight November 2020 report.