By Brandy C. OstanikOctober 23, 2017
In September, Bassett Army Community Hospital had 462 appointments go unused due to patient no-shows -- individuals who miss or are more than 15 minutes late without calling to cancel or reschedule. This number equates to just over 23 appointments each day.
"That's extremely frustrating," said beneficiary Abby Simon, when Bassett ACH reported the number on social media. "Especially when you need to be seen and there isn't appointments available for a day or two because people aren't showing up. Very unfortunate."
Of the 462 appointments throughout Bassett ACH to go unused due to no-shows, 195 of them came from the primary care clinics.
Denali Clinic: 94 no-shows, 84 from active duty dependents
Aurora Clinic: 50 no-shows, 48 from active duty dependents
Kenai Kids Clinic: 46 no-shows, 42 from active duty dependents
Internal Medicine: 5 no-shows
Forgetting appointments and being a no-show has a huge impact on both the organization and the community.
"While no-shows create a financial strain on the organization, the bigger concern is the impact it creates on the beneficiaries we serve," says Maj. Nancy Heath, Chief of Clinical Support Division at Medical Department Activity - Alaska. "These missed appointments create a snowball effect throughout not just our organization, but the community as a whole."
When an appointment is missed, the space is not necessarily filled with the next appointment; in many cases, the slot goes unused because there is not enough time to fill it with a beneficiary in need. Worse yet, says Sgt. 1st Class Elisa Cormier, NCOIC of Clinical Support Division, many times the person who couldn't get in for an appointment ends up in the emergency room for an issue that could have been resolved with a 15 minute appointment rather than a four hour emergency room visit.
We had an appointment shortage in our Kenai Kids Clinic for over nine days," says Cormier. "This understandably is upsetting to parents who were left taking their child to the emergency room when an appointment wasn't available. If the beneficiaries who missed appointments had called to cancel we could have given those appointments to others in need."
Heath is asking beneficiaries to care enough to call.
"Care enough about your friends and neighbors to call and cancel your appointment if you're not going to be able to make it," says Heath. "That common courtesy will open up access to care for someone who truly needs to be seen that day."
"It's a common occurrence for people to call and cancel a hair appointment or dinner with friends when they can't make it. We are asking beneficiaries to do the same with their appointments," says Heath.
"While we ask for appointments to be cancelled is 24 hours in advance, even two to three hours is helpful and gives us the opportunity to open the appointment back up as a same day appointment for someone else," says Heath.
According to Heath, once an appointment is cancelled, it appears back on TRICARE online as well as at our call center as a bookable appointment.
To cancel an appointment, beneficiaries can call the appointment line at 361-4000 or cancel the appointment through TRICARE Online if the appointment was booked online. Additionally, beneficiaries are given the option to confirm or cancel their appointment at the time of the reminder call.