Background: When patients fail to appear for scheduled appointments, the flow of patient care is interrupted, and clinic productivity declines. This study investigated the impact of failed appointments on a clinic by measuring time and money lost after taking into account same-day treatment patients (walk-ins).
Methods: Schedule information was retrieved for 4,055 visits over 20 business days. Data were collected on appointment status (show, no-show, cancel, walk-in), time allocated for the appointment, charges for visit, date and time of the visit, and other appointment information.
Results: No-shows and cancellations represented 31.1% of scheduled appointments and 32.2% of scheduled time. Rates of failed appointments varied by type of provider, patient demographics, and patient status (new versus established). Walk-in patients replaced 61.0% of failed appointments but only 42.4% of the time blocked for those appointments. Walk-in visits generated 89.5% of the charges associated with scheduled visits. Over the course of a year, total revenue shortfalls could range from 3% to 14% of total clinic income.
Conclusions: Failed appointments pose financial as well as administrative problems for residency practices. Proactive reminder systems are needed to promote patient attendance.