Why Patients Don’t Make Doctor’s Appointment

It is estimated that healthcare organizations experience no-shows at a rate of up to 18.8%. Not only do no-shows cost practices a significant amount of money, but they also interfere with the entire day’s schedule and cause other patients to miss out on potential appointments.

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What are patient no-shows?

What are patient no-shows?

No-shows refer to situations when patients don’t turn up to their scheduled appointments. It is estimated that healthcare organizations experience no-shows at a rate of up to 18.8%. Not only do no-shows cost practices a significant amount of money, but they also interfere with the entire day’s schedule and cause other patients to miss out on potential appointments. The negative consequences associated with no-shows dictate that healthcare clinics should be constantly implementing new strategies to reduce their frequency. One of the most effective ways of doing this is by introducing appointment reminders for patients that are sent prior to upcoming bookings, guaranteeing that they are informed and prepared.

True cost of patient no shows

The biggest cost associated with no-shows is the direct damage to the patient’s own health. The treatment of the patient is interrupted, and they are unable to receive the care they require in a timely manner. Additionally, it was reported by Athenahealth in 2019 that no-shows increase attrition by almost 70%. Furthermore, no-shows have a direct monetary cost for each individual practice, and are estimated to cost the healthcare industry a whopping USD $150 billion per year. Specifically, clinics lose money from the empty time-slots that were originally booked for the patients who didn’t show up. They are also impacted by overhead and staffing costs, as they will have extra practitioners rostered on. Lastly, there are rippling costs associated with patient dissatisfaction, especially if it appears as though the quality of care has been reduced. All of these costs place significant strain upon practitioners and healthcare institutions, and implementing strategies to minimize their frequency is extremely important.

True cost of patient no shows
5 most common reasons for patient no-shows

5 most common reasons for patient no-shows

Before you begin to introduce strategies designed to reduce no-shows, it is initially important to understand exactly why they happen. As the aversive financial and medical consequences of no-shows have become more prominent, research has been conducted into the specific factors that are making people miss their appointments. These reports indicate that the following are 5 of the most common reasons for patient no-shows:

  • Fear: Regardless of what type of service they require, most people are simply scared of seeing a doctor. They might be scared of receiving bad news, having to change their lifestyle choices, or are concerned they will be on the receiving end of a wearisome lecture. Many people simply associate having to see a healthcare professional with negative past experiences, and so this fear is fairly understandable. As a practitioner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your patients feel safe and comfortable when they are in your care. Once you have established this type of relationship, it is highly likely that any sense of fear the patient originally felt will dissipate.
  • Cost: Although a large number of the US population have health insurance, there are still significant fees associated with seeing a healthcare provider. Patients who are seeing specialists or know they have to pay an upfront cost may be less likely to show up to their appointment. Although managing the financial side of a healthcare business can be tricky, it can be helpful to set up payment strategies/processes to help those patients that are experiencing financial stress. 
  • Disadvantages: Within every population, there are certain demographics of people that face barriers preventing them from accessing healthcare. For example, people who live in rural areas may have to use unreliable transportation methods that can make them miss their appointments. This is the same for elderly patients who no longer drive. 
  • Other priorities: It can be easy to forget that patients also lead very busy lives, and work and family commitments will almost always come before healthcare appointments. If a last-minute change of plan came up for the patient, it is likely that the healthcare appointment is lower on the ladder of priorities, particularly if the appointment was just a check-up.
  • Forgetting: This is one of the most common reasons for no-shows, and perhaps the one we can most effectively eliminate. The longer the period of time between booking an appointment and the actual appointment, the more likely the patient will simply forget about the booking. Although highly inconvenient for the clinic, it is understandable to see how this situation might arise.

Reduce no shows with automated appointment software

Now that you understand the reasons why patients miss their appointments, it is time to think about the strategies you can employ to minimize the risk of no-shows. With the development of healthcare technologies, many practices have begun to implement appointment scheduling software that allows patients to have greater flexibility in booking their own appointments. These systems are typically integrated with automated appointment reminders that are sent out to patients prior to their upcoming bookings. Setting up these automated reminders has been shown to reduce no-shows by up to 99%, saving your healthcare practice significant amounts of time and money. Depending on the preferences of patients, you can choose whether to send out the reminders via text message or email (or both), guaranteeing that they will see the notification. Some of the other benefits of using automated appointment software include:

  • Increased flexibility for patients, as they can choose the time-slots that best suit their own schedule. 
  • Reduced wait times, as the automated system organizes appointments extremely efficiently. 
  • Better patient satisfaction, as clients can play a more involved role in managing their bookings. 
  • Save time for administrative staff, who no longer have to spend hours on the phone booking, rescheduling, and canceling appointments. 

Take home message

The aversive consequences that no-shows have for both patients and practitioners indicate the importance of implementing strategies designed to reduce them. One of the most effective methods of doing so is by introducing automated appointment software. Not only do these systems significantly minimize the frequency of no-shows, but they save practices time, money, and energy. The vast advantages of appointment software will guarantee that your healthcare business is using their time in the most efficient way possible, whilst simultaneously optimizing patient satisfaction and delivering high-quality clinical services. 

Further Reading:

Reduce no shows with automated appointment software

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No-shows are an unfortunate situation that impacts almost every healthcare practice, so understanding what they are and why they occur is imperative to operating a successful business. Most importantly, no-shows can harm the patient’s health, as it prevents them from receiving timely care, and can lead to misdiagnosis and delayed treatment.
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No-shows refer to the situation that arises when a patient fails to attend an appointment they had booked, and unfortunately are something that every healthcare practice has to deal with. The biggest concern regarding no-shows is the fact that they undermine a patient’s health. Failure to seek treatment can result in delayed care, misdiagnosis, and worse clinical outcomes.
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Patient appointment reminders are the perfect modern-day essential for healthcare practices, as they are accessible, convenient, and cost-effective. Especially nowadays, it is very easy for things to get in the way when it comes to healthcare, so having handy reminders is a brilliant way for patients to remember to show up on time. Let’s not forget that you can also significantly reduce no shows with appointment reminders, which is great when considering no-shows can rack in costs of around $1000 per week!