A missed appointment – defined as an appointment a patient was scheduled for but neither canceled, nor attended – is both costly to a practice and can lead to negative health outcomes for the patient. And yet, in a 2018 study, it was found that no-show rates at outpatient clinics can be as high as 21%.
For this part of our series on addressing patient no-shows, we’ll first look to understand why they occur. A survey conducted in 2018 for the Journal of Family Medicine and Disease Prevention found that patients missed their appointments for the following reasons:
As we can see, patients forgetting and/or not receiving a reminder of an upcoming appointment was found to be the leading cause of patient no-shows. Scheduling conflicts and transportation issues followed as the next two most common factors. When combined, these top three issues account for nearly two thirds of all missed appointments.
With this information in mind, the next obvious question for a healthcare practice is what can be done to reduce their no-show rate. In part two of this series we’ll touch on some frequently utilized approaches that don’t work well and should actually be avoided. And then in part three, we’ll cover several strategies that have been shown to be extremely effective in reducing the patient no-show rates.