Patients miss appointments hence empty hospital lobby.

Why Do Patients Miss Appointments? ReminderCall Study Reveals Memory to Blame

Anyone working in the United States healthcare industry knows that patients miss appointments. Many providers ask, “Why do patients miss appointments at my medical practice?” Or, “ What can I do to help patients show up?” Yet hard data and statistics are hard to come by. 

To help answer these questions, ReminderCall ran a public survey. We wanted to better understand why patients miss appointments. We hoped that shining a new spotlight on the issue might help reduce no-shows.

What Is the Problem Facing Healthcare Right Now?

Data suggests that the average cost of a basic medical appointment is $200. For other missed appointments, such as surgeries, costs can skyrocket into the thousands. These numbers, combined with the fact that 27% of medical appointments are no-shows, add up to a big problem. 

Medical appointment no-shows cost billions of dollars of lost revenue each year. The consequences are significant and far-reaching. Not only do no-shows harm medical practice revenue, but they also have secondary effects. For one, they threaten the stability of hospitals that are already closing at a steady clip. Second, they hinder good patient outcomes by interrupting treatment plans. Third, they increase stress for doctors, patients and staff.

What Was the Purpose of the ReminderCall Survey?

The modern U.S. healthcare practice must jump through many hoops. First, it must navigate through medical insurance restrictions. Then, the practice has to keep up with ever-changing laws and regulations. Finally, it must avoid stepping into dangerous litigation traps. Staying in business can be difficult. But, while some issues seem to be here to stay, practices can absolutely combat no-shows.

To decrease no-shows, it is important for providers to create the right kind of strategies. Investing in the wrong type of solutions won’t deliver the benefits you’re looking to achieve. This means that before you can take steps in the right direction, you need to know in which direction to move. 

This is why the team at ReminderCall decided to ask why patients miss appointments. We wanted to provide valuable information to both small and large healthcare providers. Information that could help shape your no-show-busting strategy. And, although we had some hunches, the clarity of the data surprised us.

Who Responded to the Survey? 

We surveyed 1,000 individuals in the United States of America. Respondents came from different economic backgrounds, age ranges, genders, and locations. We wanted to represent the U.S. population as a whole. To that end, we avoided targeting a specific location or type of healthcare user. And, we wanted to better understand why all different kinds of patients miss appointments.

Why Do Patients Miss Appointments? Data Results

ReminderCall has discovered that memory has a lot to do with why patients miss appointments. Our poll revealed that:

  • 27% of people have missed a health appointment because they simply forgot about it. 

The survey included all types of medical appointments. This means that missed appointments don’t only happen in primary care. They happen to specialists, such as mental healthcare providers, chiropractors, and dentists too. In fact, forgetfulness seems to impact all wellness services by reducing attendance rates. 

Are There Other Studies?

Many other studies show that automated text messages, phone calls, and email reminders help attendance. One study finds that the use of appointment reminder software can cut no-shows by up to 37%. A further study discovered that appointment reminders reduced no-show rates to 2.43%. Yet another study reviewed 29 separate third-party research projects. The study concluded: “The evidence is overwhelming that reminders have a positive effect on non-attendance rates.”

What Does This Mean for Healthcare Providers?

The data from ReminderCall’s survey makes it very clear. The answer to reducing missed appointments is addressing forgotten appointments. There are other reasons patients miss appointments. These include emergencies, transportation issues, and anxiety. But the results of this survey highlight just how often patients forget. And those are the missed appointments most easily addressed.

You’ve probably heard that attracting a new patient costs five times more than seeing a repeat patient. By using reminders, healthcare providers can improve revenue in an inexpensive way. They can fill their schedules by getting existing patients to keep appointments. They may not need an expensive new marketing campaign to drum up new business. Instead, they can stay busy organically. In other words… this is great news!

The impact that no-shows have on revenue and patient care suggests a big problem. But, by increasing awareness, you can slash the number of appointments that go unattended. Whether you use reminder calls, text messages or emails, you can absolutely reduce your no-show rate. Increasing patient awareness is key.

ReminderCall is an industry-leading provider of automated reminder software. Our specialist solutions can help support healthcare organizations to reduce no-show rates and increase revenue. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services.


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