Patients who schedule clinical appointments and do not show-up have an adverse impact on the clinical workflow, patient care system, and cost-effective care delivery. Studies suggest that 1 out of 5 appointments are no-show.
To work around the problem and its consequences, practices use a number of tactics, such as charging fees during appointment booking, which is unfriendly to patients. While patient no-shows are annoying, it is important for healthcare systems to understand the reasons behind patients missing their appointments, emphasize on various social determinants that limit the patients to show-up. That’s the only way care delivery providers can serve their patients better.
Before we move on to how this problem can be resolved, let’s discuss some of the reasons that end up with patient no-show.
1. Longer Wait Time between Scheduling and Actual Appointment
This is one of the most common, but an unnoticed reason for patient no-show. If the appointment is booked quite earlier than the day of visiting the doctor. This usually results in a patient forgetting about the schedule or loses interest in the consultation.
2. Lack of Government-Provided Health Benefits
Cost is one of the significant reasons for patients missing a scheduled appointment. According to a study, more than 50% of insured Americans have a difficult time figuring out what their insurance will cover, while 77% want an easier way to ensure that the doctor is in-network while booking appointments. Lack of knowledge about the benefits that can be availed with health insurance policies is what’s resulting in cost concerns and therefore into patient no-show for appointments.
3. Logistical Issues (Transportation, Work, Child Care, etc.)
There are a number of logistical issues responsible for a patient’s no-show. This could be the unavailability of a suitable mode to travel to the care clinic. For example, if a patient is relying on public transportation, there could be ‘X’ number of things coming his way (closed bus route, delay on the subway). Moreover, factors such as household chores, child care, work schedule make it difficult for patients to take out time for scheduled appointments.
4. Psychosocial Factors (Extreme Illness, Stress, Hopelessness, etc.)
Psychosocial factors such as stress, hostility, hopelessness, depression, etc. contribute to the patient no-show phenomenon. Such factors don’t let the patients understand the value of a scheduled appointment and the impact of missing it. Moreover, extreme health conditions or improvements in health do not allow patients to visit the doctor for follow-up or consultation.
How to Avoid Patient No-Show Problem?
Based on the reasons shared above for patient’s no-show for consultation, here are a few ways that can help healthcare service providers to work around the problem.
- Set Automatic Reminder or make Reminder Calls
To make sure that patients do not forget about their appointment, ensure that they are reminded about it. You can either designate a staff member to make a call to the patient about the scheduled appointment or automate the process digitally. Also, avoid long wait time between scheduling and the actual appointment so that there are fewer chances that the patient will forget about it or lose interest in consultation.
- Make Virtual Visits Possible through e-Consultation
Making out time from busy work schedules or household chores is difficult for many to show up for the scheduled appointment. To make care delivery seamless in such a situation or to avoid no-show problem, set-up e-consultation sessions.
These sessions ensure that patients can connect to doctors/physicians through audio or video calls. These virtual visits can be a great substitute for F2F meetings in non-emergency scenarios such as consultation for chronic health problems, acute care, follow-ups, etc.
- Keep the Patients Informed About Insurance Plans
It is important to keep the patients informed about their insurance plans to deal with their cost concerns. As mentioned above, patients want to know what their insurance plan offers so that they can make an informed booking decision and do not cancel the plan of visiting the doctor due to the cost factor. While booking, patients want to know about their healthcare plan offerings and it is an important step to keep them informed to avoid no-show situation.
How to Automate Appointment Management Tasks
Manually dealing with the patient no-show problem can be frustrating and the process can have errors well. That is why it is recommended to automate the process digitally, just like various appointment management platforms like Zocdoc, Practo has done. Such online appointment booking platforms enable patients to book appointments, send automatic reminders to them, keep the customers informed about their insurance offerings, etc.
In addition, digital solutions that enable patients to have a virtual visit to the doctor or physician are making waves in the healthIT industry. A custom appointment management platform is the need of healthcare delivery providers to deal with the no-show issue.
To understand how automating appointment cycle can help your healthcare system become more efficient and profitable, book a 30-minute free consultation with our digital healthcare experts.