What Can a Late Patient Cost Your Office?

You’ve been there — front office staff calls out a name in the waiting room to start the check-in process, but there’s no movement. Maybe your patient lost track of time, an accident occurred, or they simply decided they didn’t want to go to the dentist after all. But have you ever considered how this affects your office and what a late patient can really cost you? 

According to a Health Management Technology study, no-shows cost the U.S. healthcare system over $150 billion annually. Physicians waste an average of $200 for every missed patient as well.

While you might think that a late patient can be stressful for your business and the workflow of your staff members, it could also be potentially detrimental to the reputation of your practice (and be hard on your patients who show up on time). 

Below, we’ve highlighted the outcomes of late patients and what your practice can do to reduce the chance of this occurring in the future.

What does a Late Patient Cost?

Monetary measurement is certainly the first impact that comes to mind when mentioning patient cost. However, there are a variety of indirect costs associated with a late patient that you may have overlooked. Consider the following:

  1. A disrupted staff workflow

When a patient comes in late or doesn’t show up altogether, the entire workday is impacted. The cost of a late patient throws off your schedule and can be detrimental to your team’s workflow. One patient showing up outside of their scheduled appointment leads to the pushback of other appointments. This can lead to an overwhelmed front office staff attempting to reorganize your patient load, which is then transferred to a stressed and overtasked assistant workload and an abundance of patients for you to get through in a timely manner. 

  1. Unhappy patients who did show up on time

Your staff members aren’t the only ones who will feel the effects of a late patient. Unfortunately, those who were there when they were supposed to be may get the brunt of the impact as well. 

Patients who showed up to their appointments on time may feel less than satisfied with your service if you have to push back their time slot. Think of those who are using their lunch breaks at work for their appointments — or the mom who brought her young children in for their cleanings. Late patients may result in negative reviews from patients who were courteous enough to arrive on time.

  1. Missed opportunities 

Starting every day with a positive attitude and mindset can be essential to the success of your workflow. However, your picture-perfect day at the practice can go out the window if you’re not sending appointment reminders or using a system to mitigate these issues from occurring. When you don’t take advantage of the opportunity to remind your patients of their appointments, you may find yourself dealing with more late patients than you bargained for. Don’t miss opportunities like a smoothly run practice, better patient care, and positive patient reviews. There are ways to keep the fallout of a late patient from occurring — and most of them involve utilizing a patient management system.  

How You Can Reduce the Direct Impact of Late Patients

With Carestream Dental’s Patient Manager, you’ll have tools at your staff's fingertips like two-way texting and the ability to automatically send traffic alerts prior to appointments. Additionally, the features available to patients, such as online scheduling and the use of a virtual waiting room, put the power in your patients’ hands to ensure they’re consistently getting the most out of their care. The fact is, when patients are reminded about their appointment, you’ll notice fewer showing up late. Improve your patient experience by scheduling a free demo of Patient Manager today. 


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The Digital Stream Carestream Dental Blog Administrator
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