By Mrs. Katherine I Rosario (Army Medicine)December 20, 2013
In our 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 cancelling 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.
During FY13, no-show rates hovered in the 6 percent range at LAHC.
"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 $450K - $900K per year in lost revenue."
Currently, the physical therapy clinic has the most no-shows. About 1,900 patients missed 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 Lt. Brian Turner, practice manager for the department of Primary Care.
In order to provide timely appointments and continuity of care, it is important that you cancel your appointment as soon as possible if you are not able to make it.
We consider a patient late for their appointment if they arrive more than 15 minutes after the scheduled time of their appointment. We understand that sometimes unforeseen circumstances occur and will try to accommodate all patients. If we cannot make an accommodation patients arriving late will be considered a no-show and be made an appointment at a later date.
Our goal is to have unneeded appointments cancelled 24 hours in advance, but at least two hours prior to the scheduled appointment times. This allows us 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 334-255-7000 and choosing option #2.
Our patients are an important member of our Team at LAHC. The next time you are unable to make it to an appointment, please be sure to call or go online to cancel, because "an appointment missed by you, is an appointment missed by two."