Should you charge a no-show fee?

Operating a medical or mental health practice can be a challenge under the best of circumstances.  You may need deal with not only decisions relating to the individual patient or client themselves but also with staff, bills, maintaining a safe work environment, when to take continuing education credits, and of course balancing other responsibilities outside of the practice, such as giving lectures, teaching, research, or writing as your duties dictate and that is not including family duties.  Of course some of the most important decisions to be made are those that affect profitability and allow you to continue to serve the needs of your clients.

However, if you deal with clients or patients, certainly there will be times when a patient cannot or will not appear at their scheduled time.  This could be even more challenging for a hypnotherapy practice where there is a high client turn over due to the nature of the field as well as limited hours one can work.  Depending on the situation, such as if the hypnotherapist rents an office by the hour or by the day or if they are traveling to a location, a hypnotherapist might have to put out money just to prepare to see the client, such as assuring staff are present to greet the client.  This can create a problem if you have staff salaries and rent which need to be paid and no client present to pay!

Many offices, be them medical or mental health, will charge for late cancellations or no show appointments and with professional organizations such as the AMA (American Medical Association) backing this up as being ethical provided the client knows in advance of what can happen if one misses an appointment, what is a provider to do?

There are benefits to charging for missed appointments.

  • By charging, hopefully clients will realize the provider’s time is valuable and deserving of respect.
  • Prevents unnecessary cancellations, which is the ideal goal
  • Help recoup lost revenue such as the hourly rent charge or the staff salaries
  • Help weed out those who really have no interest in taking charge of their self improvement or health.
  • By stating there is a cancellation, the office has a better chance to fill appointment slots.

Of course as there are benefits, there are also drawbacks

  • Some clients aren’t going to be comfortable with the cancellation fees.  While some of these people are going to be otherwise great clients, many of them who are going to run are those who are not someone you might want to have in the first place
  • If you bill a client, they may become angry leading to abuse.
  • They may even decide to take it up with the credit card company which means you or a staff member will have to take time out of your schedule to track down the payment.

Of course another important consideration is to find out why they are no-showing.  A common complaint to no show for a medical or psychological appointment is not having a ride to the location.   Some services can be performed virtually.  Other complaints can include a poorly scheduled appointment, although with flexible hours and long days and short days this might be a way around this problem especially if the clients schedule themselves.

Another question is how much does one charge?

That might depend on the speciality as well as your comfort level.  My own doctors range from $20 to $50.  Ultimately, this is your decision as to what you feel comfortable with.

I hope this helps

 

Melvin S. Marsh is a certified hypnotherapist serving Augusta GA and Statesboro GA. He performs hypnotherapy appointments both in person and worldwide virtually.  He can be reached at www.afterhourshypnotherapy.com .