The healthcare system suffers from widespread inefficiency that contributes to higher costs and can impact patient care. An inability to effectively reduce missed appointments contributes to that inefficiency and, in fact, missed appointments cost the healthcare system $150 billion each year. These missed appointments and last-minute cancellations impact not only providers and the patients who miss them, but other patients as well.
- Patients risk having undiagnosed symptoms lead to more serious conditions;
- Patients face paying no-show fees, in addition to the cost of their visits when they reschedule;
- Healthcare providers lose revenue from missed appointments, which also have a secondary impact because patients don’t fill prescriptions or seek additional care for conditions;
- Providers miss revenue opportunities by not being able to fill missed appointment slots, while also having to use additional slots to make up those missed visits;
- Missed appointments and rescheduling creates additional administrative work;
- Missed visits increase attrition rates, impacting patient health and provider revenue streams as patient volumes are reduced. Even a single missed appointment can have a significant impact on attrition rates;
- Other patients aren’t able to use missed appointment slots because they weren’t cancelled in advance, and they lose additional availability as missed appointments are rescheduled.
With no-show rates reaching as high as 30%, there are many possible reasons patients miss their appointments. Regardless of the driving factors, though, they are a problem.
- Forgetfulness – Patients simply forget their scheduled appointments.
- Conflicting obligations – Patients may schedule multiple activities at the same time and prioritize other appointments over their medical visits.
- Work – Patients may find it difficult to get away from work to go to the doctor or they don’t want to use time off for visits.
- Fear – Many patients simply avoid seeing doctors out of fear.
- Travel limitations – Each year, 6 million Americans miss appointments due to lack of transportation. Patients without regular access to a vehicle, who don’t drive themselves, or who don’t have convenient mass transit access may miss visits because the simply can’t get to them. Weather conditions may play a factor, as well as the cost of commuting.
- Time – Patients may feel appointments take too much time out of their days when they have other needs, including children, errands, meetings, or social activities.
Understanding the challenges missed appointments create along with the causes of those no-shows, healthcare providers need to tackle the issue through better use of the technology that is enabling more efficient care in other areas of their practices. Connected health solutions can help providers reduce the rate of missed appointments while helping them deliver better care to patients.
Missed Appointment Trends
Healthcare providers can use artificial intelligence to analyze appointment data to predict many no-shows before they happen. Patients may exhibit patterns of missed visits related to time of day, day of week, holiday periods, or others – that can be identified through data analytics. Providers can then proactively communicate with patients in advance to reschedule existing appointments and avoid scheduling future appointments that fall within these pattern parameters.
Convenience and Time Savings
Telehealth visits can allow patients to schedule visits at more convenient times and allow them to attend appointments from anywhere. That means, if they have kids at home or have limited time between work meetings, they can visit with their doctors from their homes or offices using a connected health platform. Virtual visits can not only reduce the time needed for their actual consultations, but reduced travel and waiting time.
Using online scheduling through patient portals, providers can make it easier for patients to schedule and change appointments, while reducing the burden on staff, who can spend more time on other tasks. If a patient cancels an appointment, that slot becomes immediately available for other patients to fill. Advanced automation platforms can even generate notifications to other patients who have requested them should earlier appointments become available. It can all be done without manual staff intervention.
Connected health platforms can increase engagement with patients, including sending automated reminders. Providers are also able to efficiently provide follow-up information, answer patient questions, schedule follow-up visits, monitor prescription adherence, and more using a combination of automated and manual connected health tools.
Connected health can allow doctors to include other medical professionals to better support patients. That may mean bringing in colleagues for additional consultation during virtual visits, or specialists who may be treating patients for other conditions. By leveraging connected health technologies, physicians can provide greater continuity of care by actively coordinating with other doctors. They can also reduce the need for patients to schedule multiple visits with other providers.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Chronic disease patients who require regular visits to monitor their health may risk complications when they miss appointments. Remote patient monitoring systems can reduce the need for in-person visits by leveraging connected monitoring devices to record and transmit patient data to providers. Virtual visits can allow physicians to complete routine check-ins, but also enables rapid response should RPM readings exceed defined thresholds.
During the course of the past year, connected health turned a corner. While that evolution may have been driven by necessity during a national health emergency, it has shown healthcare providers and patients how technology can enable high-quality care. The same solutions can help providers further improve their operational efficiency and ability to deliver care to more patients by reducing the number of missed appointments.
To learn more about the benefits of connected health and how it can positively impact healthcare delivery, connect with us here.