How Much Are Cancelled Appointments & No-Shows Costing You?

How Much Are Cancelled Appointments & No-Shows Costing You?

The answer is too much – too much time, resources, and money are lost to no-shows and cancellations at clinics and systems every day. That’s time, resources, and money that could be spent delivering care, bringing in extra dollars, and investing in a better patient experience. 

Not doing anything to reduce no-shows, manage cancellations, and proactively fill empty appointment slots accounts to leaving money on the table. But before you start developing your no-show plan of attack, here is how you can do the math and estimate just how much no-shows are costing your clinic or system.

No-shows and cancellations are costing you (a lot of) money.

In fact, the healthcare industry loses more than $150 billion a year to no-shows alone. On average, clinics, systems, and practices are experiencing a no-show rate around 18.8 percent. That’s one out of every five of your appointment slots not reimbursable. We estimate that clinics and systems are losing over $150,000 per provider, per year due to no-shows. 

18.8% no show rate × 
21 appt. slots per day × 
$150 avg. appt. value × 
264 business days a year =
$156,340.80 per provider, per year

And that’s not even factoring in the high cost of appointment cancellations. Of patients taking the time to cancel their appointments ahead of time, how many are taking the time to reschedule? 

Without simple processes in place for patients to reschedule and quickly find a time that works for them, you may lose patients to attrition. But taking the time to reschedule each and every patient who no-shows or cancels can take a huge investment of time from your staff. Which brings us to our next point.

No-shows and cancellations are costing you (too much) time.

Without a smart technology solution in place to reschedule no-shows, improve cancellation management, and fill empty appointment slots, these tasks are wasting your staff’s valuable time. That’s time that could be spent providing a top-notch care experience, making each and every patient feel welcome, or helping patients coordinate care, or answering patient’s non-clinical questions. 

Studies show the average length of a phone call spent scheduling a medical appointment is 8.1 minutes. That’s almost ten minutes of your staff’s time spent for every patient who wants to schedule, or reschedule, an appointment! If you commit to manually following up with every single patient who no-shows, you are looking at about 17 and a half full business days of work every year for every full-time provider at your clinic.

8.1 minutes × 
18.8% no show rate × 
21 appt. slots a day =
31.9 minutes per provider, per day

And that’s not even factoring in the clinical time that goes down the drain every time a patient doesn’t show. Empty appointment slots lower morale because they take clinician attention away from direct patient care, which is what they care about above and beyond anything else. And patients who are missing out on needed care are less likely to improve, making it difficult for providers to meet those quality of care and performance indicators. Which brings us to our last point.

Patient no-shows are costing you your patients’ health and happiness.

Nobody likes waiting – especially when you’re sick. Being able to schedule an appointment in the not-too-distant future is one of the most important indicators of patient experience. Unfortunately, your busy business’s wait times are exacerbated by no-shows and unmanaged cancellations. There’s a direct correlation between appointment wait times and patient satisfaction scores – as one grows, the other shrinks.

And the longer patients have to wait for care, the less likely they are to get better. And this is really the most critical point – no-shows and cancellations limit your ability to help improve patient health. Ultimately, that’s what we’re all about. Getting patients to care more quickly helps improve their chances at recovery, better disease management, and better health outcomes.

This one’s a bit harder to do the math on, but let’s give it a shot.

(Long appt. wait times x patient satisfaction with waiting)
(lack of progress on health x blame of provider) = 
very unhappy patients

Doing the math is the best first step. It can help you set measurable goals for decreasing your no-show rate, filling empty appointment slots, and increasing your revenue and improving patient satisfaction along the way. For tips on improving in these areas, stay tuned for our next blog post where we cover our “Waitlist-reminder one-two punch” which will cover how to automate your no-show and cancellation solution.

Tashfeen Ekram, MD, is a radiologist, self-taught coder, healthcare innovator and Co-Founder of Luma Health. Contact him on Twitter at @tashfeenekramMD.