4 Things That Happen When You Miss Your Doctor’s Appointment
Nurses who work in physician practices know the pain of people who constantly miss their doctor’s appointments, or who are unprepared when they do show up. It’s estimated that 10-25% of all patients who schedule a doctor’s appointment miss their appointments – staggering numbers indeed.
Now, we nurses understand that life is tough – sometimes you can’t make it to an appointment, sometimes you forget, or you just can’t make it. However, at ScrubsMag, we think it’s important to make it clear that these sorts of no-shows are, in fact, very costly.
Whether you’re a nurse who has missed a doctor’s appointment or are a nurse who works in a physician practice and has to deal with the fallout, we’ve put together a list of the 4 things that happen when you miss a doctor’s appointment – and why they matter.
- You Will Be Charged For Missing Your Appointment
This is a very controversial practice – especially among patients who often miss appointments. Most physicians charge somewhere between $30-120 for a “no-show”, or a cancellation that has less than 24 hours of advance notice.
Now, there’s a grain of truth to the fact that doctors aren’t precisely paid per patient – generally, one patient missing an appointment doesn’t actually “cost” a practice a significant amount of money.
However, a pattern of patients making appointments and failing to appear can cost a practice quite a bit of time and money – so the monetary penalties are there to ensure that there is an actual “cost” to missing an appointment. This can ensure that more patients show up on time, and don’t forget their appointments.
- You May Have Trouble Getting Another Appointment
Many physician practices and clinics have a huge volume of patients – and booking an appointment sometimes must be done weeks in advance. If a patient misses their appointment – especially with a specialist practice – it may be quite a while before they can be seen, due to highly rigorous scheduling.
If patients are in serious need of attention, clinics and physician practices will work with them to resolve their issues and get an appointment quickly, but this may even involve sending a patient to a different physician who is available sooner – which is not an ideal solution and can cause the quality of care to suffer.
- Physician Practice Efficiency Sinks
If a patient schedules an appointment and fails to show up for it, physician efficiency sinks. The physician and nurses who were scheduled to see a patient have nothing to do – and the time that they’re wasting could have been used to see other patients with pressing issues.
This is the primary reason that physicians dislike it when patients fail to appear for appointments – the time that they have wasted sitting around for a no-show could have been used to treat another patient, and increase the overall efficiency of their practice.
- Patient Care Quality Suffers
Patient care shouldn’t just be thought of as the responsibility of doctors and nurses – patients have a duty and a responsibility to help themselves get quality care. This means making doctor’s appointments in advance, coming to appointments as scheduled, and allowing physicians to do their jobs – by showing up when they’re required to.
Patients who do not fulfill their end of their obligation to their nurses and physicians will suffer from decreased quality of care. If a patient fails to appear for a scheduled appointment, It will be harder to fit them into emergency slots at a physician practice, or they may be sent to another specialist who has an appointment available earlier.
The combination of delays and administrative difficulties caused by patients who do not show up for appointments makes delivering quality care much harder – and the health of a patient may suffer, despite the best efforts of medical staff.
Don’t Miss Doctor’s Appointments – And Try To Help Your Patients Make Theirs
You, as a nurse, likely already know the cost of missing a doctor’s appointment. And if you work in a physician practice or a clinic, you should take necessary steps to help patients make their appointments.
According to Toronto General Hospital, the simple action of calling a patient with an upcoming appointment has shown to dramatically increase patient timeliness – practices that did not remind patients of their appointments had a nearly 25% rate of no-shows, while practices with phoned reminders and email reminders suffered only a 10-12% rate of no-shows and cancellations.
So if you have a problem with no-shows, consider implementing a more robust patient reminder system using modern healthcare IT infrastructure – pre-recorded voice messages, text messages, and emails are all fantastic ways to remind patients of their responsibilities, and increase the quality of care delivered at your practice.