Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

Should You Charge Your Patient’s a No-Show Fee? Pros & Cons

No-Show Fee Doctor's Office

As a doctor, you probably have those days where you go from being completely booked up to waiting around for no-shows.

Last-minute cancellations and no-shows can undoubtedly be a real problem for your medical practice.

Not only do they cost your doctors and staff time, but they can also end up costing the clinic a lot of money in the long term.

So what’s the solution? Should you start charging doctor’s office no-show fees? On the one hand, it could discourage your patients from skipping their appointments, but on the other, it might also alienate chronic no-shows.

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To help you make a well-informed decision, we’ve come up with a list of all the pros and cons you need to know!

Doctor’s Office No Show Fee Pros

With no-show rates between 12% to as high as 80% in certain settings, charging doctor’s office no-show fees might seem like an obvious answer.

But exactly what benefits can these fees have on your medical practice?

Here are the biggest pros of charging doctor’s office no-show fees:

#1. They tell patients that no-shows are an inconvenience for your clinic

Oftentimes, patients simply don’t realize that canceling a reservation last minute or just not showing up can be an inconvenience to their doctors.

Unfortunately, patients don’t always see your clinic as an actual place of business and might not consider missing an appointment with their doctor as bad as missing an appointment with their hairdresser, for example.

However, if your clinic starts charging a doctor’s office no-show fee along with a 24-hour notice cancellation policy, patients’ perspectives might change.

#2. They reduce your financial losses

The average cost of a doctor’s office visit in 2023 is around $300, making each missed appointment a considerable loss for your clinic. Though a $25 doctor’s office no-show fee doesn’t exactly make up for this, it does reduce your losses.

To collect these fees, you should inform your patients about your no-show fee and ensure they receive a missed appointment text message, then automatically charge their cards (as long as the payer contract allows it) whenever a missed appointment occurs.

#3. They reduce the rate of no-shows

In some cases, a doctor’s office no-show fee might even encourage your patients to keep their appointments more faithfully.

Besides the fact that no one likes paying extra fees, patients will also be more likely to value their doctors’ time.

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For more tips on running a medical practice, check out our guide on private practice management.

Doctor’s Office No Show Fee Cons

Though applying doctor’s office no-show fees come with many advantages, it isn’t a flawless solution.

There are several drawbacks that you should consider, such as:

#1. They may cause some customers to leave

It’s true that a doctor’s office no-show fee might reduce the rate of missed appointments, but it can also lead to losing a certain category of patients.

For those super busy patients that often end up skipping out on their doctor’s appointments, a sudden change in policy might be a deal-breaker. Instead of encouraging them to keep their appointments, a doctor’s office no-show fee might drive these patients to your competitors.

#2. They may lead to bad reviews

While not all patients who are affected by the doctor’s office no-show policy will end up leaving your practice, they might give you a bad rep.

When charged a fee for missing an appointment once or twice, some patients might feel resentful and write negative reviews or complain to friends and family about your service. This could, of course, cost you many new customers.

#3. They may be difficult to collect

It can be a hassle to collect the doctor’s office no-show fees. Repeatedly mailing bills alone can cost you more than the fee is worth in some cases.

Overall, unless you have your patients’ card details stored and can automatically charge them according to the contract, the hassle might not be worth it.

Want to know how you can avoid common healthcare practice pitfalls? Make sure to read our private practice keys to success.

Should You Charge Your Patients a No-Show Fee?

With all of the pros and cons in mind, it comes down to the question – should you charge your patients a doctor’s office no-show fee?

There’s no one right answer to that question for every clinic. It’s highly individual and it depends on a variety of factors.

Here are some things you should consider:

  • How many of your regular patients are chronic no-shows? If you have a lot of patients who often miss their appointments, you might end up losing more revenue by pushing them away.
  • Are you able to obtain card details from most of your patients? If not, then the hassle and associated costs of collecting the no-show fee might not be worth it.
  • What percent of your scheduled appointments are no-shows? If the percentage is very high, a doctor’s office no-show fee might help you drastically reduce the rate of no-shows.

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Key Takeaways

Charging a doctor’s office no-show fee might be a viable solution to last-minute cancellations and no-shows at your clinic. However, it isn’t always the best option.

The pros of no show fees include:

  • They tell patients that no-shows are an inconvenience for your clinic.
  • They reduce your financial losses.

The cons are:

  • They may cause some customers to leave.
  • They may lead to bad reviews.
  • They may be difficult to collect.

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer to whether it’s better to charge doctor’s office no-show fees or not, however, if you weigh the pros and cons carefully, you’ll come to the best solution for your clinic.

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