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Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

How to calculate patient no-show rate

The patient no-show calculation rate is a metric to help track patient experience, and these 7 tips can help you improve it.

Physician and medical practice staff member read about how to calculate and improve patient no-show rate

At a Glance

  • No-shows are a major problem for healthcare providers, resulting in significant revenue losses and negatively impacting quality of care.
  • Strategies practices can implement to reduce no-shows include sending automated appointment reminders, requiring patients to confirm appointments, personalizing patient communications, using patient portals, and charging no-show fees.
  • Streamlining the overall patient experience is important for reducing no-shows. This includes clear communication about appointments, easy scheduling and reminders, and accommodating patient preferences.

Every healthcare provider feels accomplished when they reach a full schedule, booking new patient appointments weeks in advance to keep up with demand. But no-shows and missed appointments can cause a dent in your practice’s revenue.

One study of no-show rates discovered that a vascular laboratory suffered a gross loss of $89,107 with a 12% no-show rate. Another study found that 67,000 no-shows cost the healthcare system around $7 million. On average, providers lose about $7,500 per month from no-show appointments. 

No-shows also severely impact a provider’s quality of care. One study revealed that missed primary care appointments were related to poor disease control and later presentation. The higher the no-show rate, the more it impacts a practice. And these rates can be astronomical. 

The study Evaluating the Impact of Patient No-Shows on Service Quality found that no-show rates can be as high as 80%. Furthermore, a 2022 poll from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) revealed that 49% of medical groups reported an increase in no-shows. While some of these numbers are residuals from the pandemic, no-shows continue to burden individual practices with lost revenue and time. 

There are various reasons a patient may skip an appointment. Common reasons for missed appointments include:

  • Forgetting about the appointment
  • Scheduling conflicts
  • Miscommunication
  • Long wait times between appointments
  • High cost
  • Change in insurance coverage
  • Accessibility challenges, such as transportation and language barriers

Healthcare providers have some control over these processes and can reduce their no-show rate to improve cash flow. For example, an analysis of a vascular laboratory found that reducing the no-show rate by 5% could boost annual revenue by $51,769.00. 

On average, providers lose about $7,500 per month from no-show appointments. ”

However, the most significant benefits of decreasing no-show rates are reflected in the quality of care. When patients arrive on time, healthcare providers can diagnose and treat conditions earlier. This reduces the long-term patient costs while improving a practice’s cash flow and reputation — potentially leading to more referrals.

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How to calculate patient no-show rate

You can calculate the patient no-show rate fairly quickly. All you need are 2 pieces of information: the number of appointments over a period and the number of missing appointments in that same timeframe. The formula would look like this:

calculate no-show rate formula

(Number of missing appointments / Number of total appointments over a period) *100 = No-show rate

Let’s look at an example. A physical therapist sees 35 patients a week. But 5 don’t show up. So, the calculation would be:

(5 / 35) *100 = 14.29%

The no-show benchmark rate ranges from 5% to 8%, depending on the practice’s specialty. 

Ways to improve your patient no-show rate

Did you try out the calculation and find you have a high rate? The good news is there are ways to reduce the rate of missed appointments without taking on a significant workload.

Streamline the patient experience to help prevent no-shows

Many factors that lead to no-shows stem from a poor patient experience, from long lead times to patient forgetfulness or changes in insurance coverage. Some of these reasons are within a healthcare provider’s control. Being proactive can help healthcare providers reduce their no-show rate, improve the quality of care, and decrease revenue losses. 

Medical practices can take simple steps to streamline the appointment process, such as maintaining clear communication with patients, scheduling reminders, confirming appointments, or even implementing a fee.

But there’s even more you can do to boost attendance. 

Discover how you can serve your target patient demographics, deal with persistent no-shows, and tap into financially rewarding strategies with Tebra’s recent report on Tackling Patient No-Shows

Patient Perspectives Report
Access the free report
How do you stop a patient from skipping their appointment? Discover financially rewarding strategies that won't harm your practice.
Tips for Tackling Patient No-Shows and Cancellations

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Kelsey Ray Banerjee

Kelsey Ray Banerjee is a professional content writer in the healthcare, marketing, and finance space. She has worked in the back office of a psychiatric practice, and with family members working in mental health for 2 generations, she understands the challenges healthcare professionals face when it comes to marketing and admin. She believes access to efficient healthcare is essential for society’s well-being, and loves being able to write content that can positively impact a practice and its patients.

Reviewed by

Baran Erdik, physician and healthcare consultant

Dr. Baran Erdik, MD, MHPA is a physician with further specialization in internal medicine/cardiology. He has traveled the world, working as a physician in New Zealand, Germany, and Washington State. He’s been published numerous times and currently works in healthcare compliance and consulting.

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