FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 5, 2013) -- In this busy world, it is understandable that patients will sometimes miss appointments. However, Lyster Army Health Clinic staff asks that patients who cannot make their appointment call to cancel so they are not considered no-shows.

A no-show is defined as an individual -- Soldier, retiree or Family member -- who misses or is significantly late to an appointment without canceling or rescheduling.

Depending on the care a patient needs, an appointment value can range from $75 to $150. No-shows result in unused staff resources that could have been focused on care to other patients.

Currently, no-show rates are about 4 percent at LAHC, or about 279 no-shows per month.

"This fiscal year, about 7,000 patients did not show up to their appointment and did not call to cancel," said David Keefer, health systems specialist at LAHC. "No-shows cost Lyster between $450,000-$900,000 per year in lost revenue."

Currently, the physical therapy clinic has the most no-shows, with about 1,900 patients missing their appointments in the last fiscal year.

Multiple visits are booked for patients seen in physical therapy to monitor their healing progress, and adjust their stretching and strength training routine. Often, patients feel better after a few visits and simply decide not to show up to the rest of their scheduled appointments. Without actively canceling the remaining appointments that are reserved for that patient, other patients needing care may be delayed or sent to the TRICARE network because of appointment capacity limits.

Those who call to cancel their appointment allow their reserved appointment space to be given to another patient who needs to be seen.

Showing up for an appointment (and being on time) also helps appointment clerks, nursing staff and providers in being able to attend to the next patient in a timely manner.

"Missed appointments can also result in impaired continuity of care and possibly continued health problems," said 1st Lt. Brian Turner, practice manager for the department of Primary Care.

In order to provide timely appointments and continuity of care, it is important for people to cancel their appointments as soon as possible if they are not able to make to them.

Lyster officials consider a patient late for their appointment if they arrive more than 15 minutes after the scheduled time of their appointment. Lyster officials understand that sometimes unforeseen circumstances occur and they will try to accommodate all patients. If they cannot make an accommodation, patients arriving late will be considered a no-show and be made an appointment at a later date.

Lyster's goal is to have unneeded appointments canceled 24 hours in advance, but at least two hours prior to the scheduled appointment times. This allows Lyster officials to effectively plan and offer the appointment to another patient.

Patients who made their appointment on TRICARE online can cancel their appointment online, and those who called to schedule an appointment can cancel by calling 255-7000 and choosing Option No. 2.

Lyster officials consider patients an important member of the team at LAHC. The next time people are unable to make it to an appointment, they should call or go online to cancel, because "an appointment missed by you, is an appointment missed by two."

Page last updated Thu December 5th, 2013 at 12:46