What are the REAL costs of no-shows to Healthcare Organizations?
by Erina Suzuki | Sep 6, 2022, 12:12 PM
Due to busy schedules, it is common for patients to forget about upcoming appointments. Unfortunately for healthcare organizations, it is more complicated than just another missed appointment. For them, it can have several negative consequences.
According to Forbes, the U.S. healthcare industry loses $150 billion to missed appointments annually. In addition to the financial burden, there are negative impacts to patients' care. When patients do not show up for appointments, they miss their opportunity to receive care and increase their wait times. Appointment no-shows affect every aspect of a healthcare organization. Thankfully, organizations can avoid these challenges by ensuring they have effective communication with their patients through automated notifications.
First, what is ‘automated notification’?
Automated notifications are automated messages delivered through various channels. These channels could include SMS, voice, and email. With automated notifications, healthcare organizations can remind their patients of upcoming appointments to prevent the patient from missing them. A simple reminder like, “Hello Jess, you have an upcoming appointment at 10:30 am tomorrow at Hogwarts Dental – Please come in 5 minutes early to check yourself in!” makes all the difference.
The risks of patient no-shows
Having established that automated notifications can be helpful, let’s take a look at the risks healthcare organizations face when a patient fails to show up for their appointment without these reminders.
- Higher Staffing and Facility Costs: When a patient was scheduled to come in and didn’t, an empty timeslot from this no-show leads to under-utilized resources and lost opportunity costs. In addition, the appointment will need to be rebooked which increases expected patient volumes and the costs of staffing to accommodate the added timeslot.
- Increased Wait Times Until Next Available Appointment: The Third Next Available appointment (TNA) metric is the healthcare industry's standard measure of access to care. TNA indicates how long a patient will have to wait to be seen by a healthcare professional. Suppose a patient does not show up for an appointment. In that case, the healthcare provider is forced to rebook another appointment for the patient, taking away time slots from other patients and increasing the healthcare provider's TNA metric.
- Longer Patient Wait Times: Typically, healthcare organizations overbook appointments to avoid no-shows. Overbooking appointments, however, has the downside of prolonged wait times for patients to receive care from a physician. As a result, this leads to patient dissatisfaction and consequently contributes to higher no-show rates for future appointments.
- Limited Availability for Manual Calling: Manually reminding patients of appointments works until something comes up and all hands need to be on deck. When that happens, these reminders can be neglected or forgotten. However, automated notifications remind patients of their upcoming appointments so that staff do not have to spend additional time manually notifying them.
- Degradation of Patient Care: When a patient forgets to show up to their appointment, they need to rebook and wait longer for care. This delay can significantly impede the timely delivery of quality healthcare.
Healthcare organizations can benefit greatly from automated notifications. These benefits include reducing patient no-shows, savings on costs by optimizing staff schedules and utilizing their resources to its full potential. By implementing automated notifications, organizations can focus on providing excellent patient care and reducing the risks associated with no-shows.
Automated notification is just one of the tools that can be used to enhance healthcare organizations’ experiences. Learn about other helpful tools with this blog – How Technology Can Solve 4 Major Operational Problems in Healthcare!