Time and money: effects of no-shows at a family practice residency clinic

Fam Med. 2001 Jul-Aug;33(7):522-7.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice / economics*
  • Fees and Charges*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Office Visits / economics
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Management
  • Treatment Refusal*
  • White People / statistics & numerical data