Product & Feature

No-shows: How an appointment scheduling system can minimise healthcare’s biggest headache

05 March, 2020

The Problem

Any organisation providing medical services will know that the effects of patients missing appointments without prior notice causes problems from almost every viewpoint.

Patients may find their condition worsens and they end up needing more treatment in future. Meanwhile, every missed appointment is a slot that cannot be booked by another patient in need, while also creating delays for patients waiting in the practice on the day. Internally, valuable doctor time is wasted, scheduling issues occur and, where relevant, revenue is lost.

In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) reports that 7.2m appointments are missed with the general family doctor every year. That represents 1.2m hours of doctors’ time wasted and, with an estimated cost of £30 for each no-show, a cost of £216m. 

Why do patients miss appointments?

There have been countless studies into the reasons behind missed appointments and while the results vary across the type of healthcare organisation and the location, some factors are recurrent across all research.

  • Appointment was forgotten
  • Last minute problems: personal issues, childcare, travel delays, weather, work commitments
  • Could not contact provider to reschedule appointment
  • Too unwell too attend
  • Fear of diagnosis / treatment
  • Poor relationship with doctor or practice

How can TIMIFY help?

It‘s clear that some of these problems can be minimised if the communication channels between patients and medical practices are improved, as well as offering the possibility to reschedule or cancel appointments easily. This is why TIMIFY has developed a series of automated communications across the customer journey from booking to post-appointment, designed to tackle some of the above problems.  

Patients can cancel or reschedule online 

One of the main benefit of TIMIFY’s appointment scheduling system is that patients can book their appointment online and then cancel or reschedule it when they need to. The freedom of managing their own booking online means patients can react to last minute problems in their lives and reschedule their appointment in seconds with a few simple clicks. 

Medical practices have the also the freedom to decide the minimum amount of time patients have to cancel their appointment before the start time (from 1 hour to 48h).

With a real-time system managing the bookings calendar, any cancelled or rescheduled appointment will be made available for other patients in seconds. Fewer wasted appointment slots, less wasted doctors’ time and increased appointment availability for all patients.

Patients, as well as the service provider, will receive an email notifying of the change made. So you and your team are always aware of any changes in the schedule. 

While a practice can promote online appointment scheduling to patients in many ways, TIMIFY embeds the system with patients in two major ways: appointment confirmations and appointment reminders

Appointment confirmations

Many practices still rely on a paper reminder slip given to patients or, for phone bookings, the responsibility to make a note lies with the patient. Of course, this leads to countless errors and forgotten appointments.

When a booking is made with TIMIFY,  the patient is given the option to add this booking to their personal calendars, such as Apple, Google, Outlook, and Yahoo, increasing the likelihood of remembering the appointment.

Immediately, the patient receives a confirmation email (and/or SMS if required) containing all appointment information. They now have a record of the appointment to refer to at any time. Importantly, the message also contains links to allow the patient to cancel or reschedule the appointment themselves.

As shown in the example, the email shows: 

Appointment reminders

Reminders can be sent to patients via email or SMS up to 72 hours before the appointment. You can choose freely when you want your patients to receive the reminder.

Appointments reminders are one of the best proven methods of reducing no-show rates. According to our customers, the reduction can be up to 60% 

As with the confirmation, the reminder clearly displays:

Make TIMIFY work for your practice

TIMIFY is designed to bring the power of online appointment scheduling to your clients, but we also work continuously to make the system customisable to the needs of your organisation.

  • All communications, such as confirmations and reminders, can be made to match your look and feel (please contact our support team for extra info).
  • The Notification section in the TIMIFY Calendar, allows you to have a clear overview  on all email communications, such as if they were sent and received successfully, opened by the recipient or blocked by the email provider. This can be helpful if patients say communications were not received, or to target patient groups for whom email contact is not successful.
  • All communications are automatically sent to clients. This frees your team from admin tasks and booking schedules, leaving them more able to focus on patients.
  • Set which members of your team are notified of scheduling changes: the person that will provide the service, the account owner or both to enable them to react effectively.
  • Know your practice and your patients. If there are particular patients or groups who regularly miss appointments, tag them in the customer database as “No-shows”. Now you can easily identify them and take other measures, such as calling to give a more personal reminder. 
  • Similarly, analyse the data from TIMIFY to see if there are any patterns to no-shows. If there is a particularly problematic time or day, adjust the system to tackle it.

Continue reading:

Healthcare: Five myths about online booking debunked

Reduce patient waiting times with effective appointment scheduling

TIMIFY offers an integral solution for practices regardless of the size or focus. Contact us via our website to get more information about how our online scheduling solution will help you optimise your time management and patient experience.


About the author


TIMIFY is a global leader in scheduling and resource management software-as-a-service (Saas). It is known for its sophisticated, secure, and customisable enterprise-focused technology.