Sometimes, numbers paint a clearer picture of a problem. Such is the case in shedding light on just how much patient no-shows and cancellations cost healthcare provider organizations. For example, did you know that missed appointments also cost a single-physician medical practice an average of $150,000 per year? Or that each open, unused appointment slot costs physicians about $200?
The following numbers also highlight how no-shows and cancellations affect healthcare providers — both financially and operationally:
- Patient no-shows consume an average of 14 percent of a practice’s daily revenue.
- Missed appointments cost the healthcare industry $150 billion annually.
- On average, a new patient who waits more than a month for a first appointment is more than twice as likely to cancel and not reschedule as a new patient who is scheduled within a week.
- Over 30 percent of patients with one or more no-shows don’t return to the same practice within 18 months.
- On average each month, there are 80 established patients who no show and 43 new patients who do the same.
- A single no-show can increase attrition by 70 percent.
- For a physician, in an eight-hour shift with 20-minute reserved appointments, three unfilled cancellations cause a productivity decline of 12.5 percent.
- OB/GYN practices have higher cancellation rates than other specialties — almost 25 percent.
Reasons for a Missed Appointment
Some no-shows and cancellations are inevitable. There are environmental, financial and scheduling problems that cause patients to miss their appointment, even if it was scheduled at their preferred time and location. As the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) explains, patients commonly miss appointments because:
- They didn’t get an appointment confirmation.
- They don’t feel connected to the physician or staff.
- They booked their appointment far in advance.
- They have unreliable transportation.
- They’re confused about the need for the appointment.
- They have personal or financial issues creating a barrier to showing up.
Some research shows that patients who miss appointments tend to be younger and of lower socioeconomic status and have a history of failed appointments, government-provided health benefits and psychosocial problems. However, physician practices actively working to minimize no-shows can reduce them by up to 70 percent.
Recommendations for Reducing No-Show Appointments to Improve Patient Engagement
Missed appointments by patients because of no-shows and cancellations do more than lead to loss of expected revenue. Often, they lead to longer wait times for other patients, lower patient satisfaction, wasted resources, reduced productivity and clinical effectiveness, added stress on practice staff and an overall decrease in the quality of patient care.
For patients, missing an appointment — no matter the reason — can negatively affect their health because of a delay in diagnosis and treatment, sometimes leading to chronic disease. They reduce their access to medical care and the benefits provided by continuity of care. Plus, they limit their access to preventive screenings and often have more admissions to the emergency department.
So, how can healthcare providers reduce their patient no-shows and cancellations? One way is by simply reminding their patients. In fact, one study found that almost one-quarter of patients who didn’t get a reminder missed their appointments.
As with many other areas in the healthcare industry, digital technology can address this issue. Specifically, it aids in increasing patient engagement.
Digital tools enable patients to schedule appointments and pay bills on their own time, offering them the convenience they prefer while reducing the administrative burden on practice staff. They’re better able to meet patients’ expectations for a seamless experience, a primary goal outlined in the transition to healthcare consumerism.
By using automated appointment reminders, providers can not only reduce revenue leakage but also promote better closure rates for referrals. Used along with automated calls and emails, HIPAA-compliant SMS text messages can reduce no-show rates by up to 50 percent.
Calculating Patient No-Show Rates
Healthcare provider organizations can take another step to reduce missed patient appointments by calculating their no-show rate, which is the percentage of appointment time lost because patients don’t show up or cancel at the last minute. The equation is simply to divide the number of no-shows (including late cancellations) by the total number of weekly appointments.
It’s important to understand some of the factors that influence a medical practice’s no-show rate, including:
- Geographic location
- Patient demographics
- Scheduling practices
- Types of payers (commercial insurance, Medicaid, self-pay)
- Appointment types (new patients vs. established patients; appointments booked far in advance; appointments for certain types of tests or procedures)
At Providertech, our CareReminder solution helps providers increase revenue, enable contactless check-in and reduce the headache of managing patient no-shows with modernized text, voice and email solutions. It aids in increasing scheduling capacity and filling cancellation slots within minutes to maximize front-office efficiency and enhance the patient experience.
Increase your practice’s operational efficiency with CareReminder.