How Many Opportunities Did You Miss Today?
Skipped appointments should disappoint health care providers, but not for the reasons you think.
What do you think of when you hear someone say, "The patient is a 'no show'"? You understand what it means to a radiology practice: an outpatient appointment for an imaging study or image-based process has not been kept. Unless there is some way to fill the schedule gap quickly with another patient, the imaging equipment utilization rate decreases, staff is temporarily idle, and an opportunity to generate revenue to pay for that equipment and staff time is lost.
It also means that unless the patient quickly reschedules the appointment at your facility, they may decide to go elsewhere or they may even forego the imaging study or procedure. Perhaps you or others where you work have even been upset with the patient, mumbling some judgmental phrases as the scheduled time comes and goes without even so much as a call from the patient.
But there is another way to view a skipped appointment. For James Brink, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, the term "no show" is a pejorative. Rather than seeing a missed appointment as the fault of the patient, he sees a lost opportunity to provide care and engage with the patient.
Dr. Brink reframes these so-called no shows as opportunities to improve appointment notifications (such as inquiring about preferred means of notifications, e.g. text reminders), chances to improve patient understanding of health care communications (by identifying educational or language barriers), and occasions to improve access (such as overcoming scheduling or transportation challenges).
Listen to Dr. Brink tell you more about this in his own words as a guest on this do-not-miss installment of the Radiology Firing Line podcast, joining podcast regular C. Matthew Hawkins, MD.
Do you have patient navigators or other proactive means of minimizing missed care opportunities where you work? If you do, share your success story with others in the radiology community today by submitting a case study to the ACR.