No-shows are unfortunately pretty common with rates that range from 15 to 30 percent in general medicine
clinics and urban community centers, and as high as 50 percent in primary care facilities. No matter how dedicated and organized your organization may be, it’s impossible to guarantee that every patient who makes an
appointment will keep it.
Reducing no-shows is a major focus for many ambulatory care facilities, and improving patient engagement is an essential part of the strategy. Many organizations are recognizing that the processes and procedures that may have worked in the past are ineffective today. New hospital reminder systems may help them better communicate with patients.
The most common reason patients give for a missed doctor’s appointment—36 percent in one study—is
that they forgot. But new technologies may be the answer to solving this problem. Communication by email, text, and phone call has been proven to be effective at reducing no-shows, especially when it is personalized to the patient.
A Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Group study found that 23 percent of patients who didn’t get a reminder missed their appointments. The number of no-shows fell to 17 percent when patients were sent an automated appointment reminder. Similar results have been replicated in many other studies in recent years.
Encouraging patients to confirm or cancel their appointment gives them the opportunity to reschedule, ensuring they get the care they need and the facility can fill that open appointment. It's as easy as sending a quick reminder a day or two ahead to confirm.
Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare provider, tested an automated text messaging program at one of its clinics to reduce no-shows. The program resulted in 1,873 fewer missed appointments
at a savings of $150 per patient, leading to a total cost savings of $275,000. The program has since been
rolled out nationally.21,22
Many organizations use wait lists to fill openings that beccome available due to cancellations and no-shows. The right technology can make this process easier and more effective by sending immediate text or email alerts to waiting patients. The feature improves patient access to care and their relationship with the physician, as well as reducing the amount of revenue lost due to no-shows.
There is no doubt that reducing patient no-shows and filling last minute openings are important issues for many healthcare organizations. The right technology can help reduce no-shows to five percent or less, along with these and other process changes. Learn more about these and other key strategies by downloading the guide, No-Shows No More: Solving the Patient No-Show Crisis.