Reduce the Financial Drain of Patient No-Shows

Missed medical appointments, or no-shows, have long plagued the healthcare industry. With up to 20% of patients failing to appear for scheduled visits, no-shows result in disruptive schedule changes, compromised access to care for other patients, increased medical costs and lost revenue.

“No-show visits reduce the efficiency of radiology departments and can negatively affect overall patient health, contributing to diagnosis delays…” Dr. Joshua Rosenbaum

Why Patients Don’t Show

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, found that imaging modality and scheduling lead time have the strongest association with no-show rates.

Researchers focused on 4 hospitals and imaging centers in Seattle acquiring data from almost 2.9 million imaging patient visits. The results revealed 94,096 no-shows, resulting in an overall rate of 3.25%.

Mammography had the highest no-show rate at 6.99% while radiography had the lowest rate at 1.24%. The study speculates the difference in modality rates could be due to cost, time and radiation exposure as well as the reason for the scan.

The study found further variations in the amount of lead time involved in scheduling the exam. The highest no-show rate of 9.46% was for exams scheduled with a six-month lead time, followed by 30 days at 5.26% and lastly one week at a no-show rate of 2.71%. The less time in advance the lower the no-show rate.

Effect of Patient No-Shows

A study from SCI Solutions estimates missed appointments cost the healthcare industry $150 billion each year – about $200 in co-pays, reimbursements and overhead for every hour-long time slot that goes unfilled. All radiology departments feel the financial pinch when patients miss appointments, however nuclear medicine is often hit the hardest. Unused radiopharmaceuticals can’t be used for future scans, resulting in wasted medical supplies and money.

“These doses have a two-hour half-life. If it degrades because a patient doesn’t show up, we can’t use it and these doses can cost several hundred dollars. Normally, you can’t bill the patient for it, so the hospital or practice has to eat the cost.” Casey Wheeler, a mobile PET/CT technologist with IsoScan, LLC

The more damaging result of missed appointments is the impact on patient care. When patients fail to show up for scheduled tests, it impedes the delivery of quality healthcare.

“It’s important that patients understand that by not showing up, they could be actively slowing down their own healthcare. As a practice we want to be a partner in patient care. We don’t want them to see us as the bad guys if they don’t get the services they want when they want them.”

Christine Mayo, VP of Operations for PremierScan

“It’s important that patients understand that by not showing up, they could be actively slowing down their own healthcare. As a practice we want to be a partner in patient care. We don’t want them to see us as the bad guys if they don’t get the services they want when they want them.”

Christine Mayo, VP of Operations for PremierScan

What Can You Do?

No-shows are no small matter. There are tactics hospitals and imaging centers can implement to recoup lost revenue from missed appointments and reduce their no-show rate.

  • Charge a No-Show Fee:

This will only recoup a small fraction of the lost revenue but will discourage repeat offenders as they find themselves losing money for missed appointments.

  • Automated Text and Email Appointment Reminders:

This gives patients a quick reminder without using staff hours making it less costly and more effective than phone calls. Scheduling the reminder a few days prior to the appointment allows patients time to cancel or reschedule so that providers can fill the vacant spot.

  • Links to Cancel:

Offer a link to cancel in an automated text or email. Patients who must navigate a telephone maze will likely give up and simply skip the visit. Making it easier for patients to change or cancel appointments will cut down on costly unforeseen no-shows.

  • Give the Slot Away:

Keep an up-to-date list of patients willing to take appointments on short notice or who have asked to be contacted when there is a cancellation. This will allow hospitals and imaging centers to turn empty exam tables into an appointment.

No-shows are frustrating, but if you put the right processes in place you can decrease them and the financial drain they have on your healthcare facility.

Sources: https://www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=imc&pag=dis&itemid=120751
http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/practice-management/what-do-about-patient-no-shows-your-radiology-practice