Appointment Reminders – An Effective Way to Curtail No-Shows
When a patient receives an unexpected bill from their provider for a surprise charge for missing an appointment, patient satisfaction drops.
While it is reasonable for providers to charge this fee, both the patient and the provider feel the burden of no-show appointments. The provider loses revenue because of no-shows and experiences operational burdens, while the patient risks further health issues and bears the financial loss also.
When healthcare providers were asked, “What is your biggest challenge with appointments?” in an Oct. 2017 MGMA Stat poll, 44 percent noted no-shows or missed appointments. These no-shows cost the US healthcare system more than $150 billion a year,1 and the regular appointment skippers often end up paying for more expensive emergency care in the long run.
So why do patients skip appointments without cancelling? For most no-show patients, the circumstances vary from their busy lives to inefficient scheduling processes to the patient’s health issues to even transportation issues. Although patients are responsible for keeping appointments, no-shows put an enormous individual and collective strain on our healthcare system. A no-show often takes an appointment opportunity away from patients in need of urgent care, and the hospital or a clinic’s resources are ultimately wasted which costs the provider. Though punitive measures may be in place, these at the most warn patients for future occurrences and recover only a fraction of lost revenue, while creating a negative experience for the patients. The best approach would be for providers to craft systems that help avoid no-shows.
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2010 reported that the no-show rate was 23.1 percent for those who received no reminder, compared to 17.3 percent for those receiving an automated appointment reminder, and down to 13.6 percent if a staff member made a call.
Despite this improvement, human calls can be unreliable, and add to the already piling workload of the care staff. To account for this, email and text reminders may be the best options. When tested, response rates for appointment reminders were significantly higher at 52 percent for text messages, 28 percent for emails, and 26 percent for phone reminders. Using an efficient system that sends email and text reminders based on patient preference and response, may prove to be the perfect solution in curtailing no-show appointments for both patients and providers.2