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Doctors have enough to deal with already, but tardy or no-show patients can be a major hassle. It may not seem like a big deal, but it shows a lack of consideration for your time as well as the time of other patients who have had to delay their appointments. These are four secrets that encourage patients to be on time.

Give Them Consequences

Some patients might not feel motivated to come on time because they don’t think there’ll be any penalty. However, you can’t just let people come as they please. Being a few minutes late isn’t a problem. However, showing up far into the appointment time with no notice is. You need to penalize people like this. You could add to their bill or require them to schedule another appointment. They need to be taught that you have too much on your plate to just wait around for patients.

Shorten Their Appointment Time

If a patient is late, they’ve basically surrendered the amount of time that they’ve missed. When your patient arrives late, tell them that you’ll only be able to see them for the amount of time left. Should they be unhappy with this, remind them that they can use coffee K-cups, and that this is why they need to arrive on time. One of the best practices is making plans to arrive at least five minutes before the appointment starts.

Let Them Choose the Time

Giving a patient your first available appointment might not work so well with their schedule. Ask them what dates/times work best for them. There might not be a perfect time, but if they really need to see you, they’ll find something that’ll work. They also won’t be able to argue that it was an unreasonable time, since they’re the one who picked it. If you have email/text alerts set up, they can be reminded just in case they forget on the day of the appointment.

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Tell Them

Some people are embarrassed to be even a minute late. Others can show up 20 minutes late and not see the problem. If you have a patient like the latter case, you’ll probably have to tell them that their tardiness is an issue. Should they not listen or continue showing up late, you may need to stop seeing them.

Punctuality isn’t something you can force someone to learn, especially not if they’ve been habitually late for most of their life. However, you can put the concept into your patients’ heads with these strategies. Hopefully, you’ll have more people arriving right when or even right before their appointment time starts.