Appointment no-shows cost hospitals a lot of money every year. According to The National Health Service UK in 2018, every missed hospital outpatient appointment costs approximately £120. In a time period between 2017-18, that added up to a total of almost £1 billion in NHS missed appointments. This is a significant issue, particularly in a time of budget constraints and financial pressures on healthcare systems.
Moreover, when a high number of patients miss their appointments, it becomes even more challenging for hospitals to keep up with the demand for medical services, leading to even longer waiting times. The extended waiting times can cause patients to lose faith in the healthcare system and become disillusioned with the quality of care they are receiving. Additionally, extended waiting times can also cause patients to deteriorate in health while they wait for their appointment, potentially leading to more serious health problems and a higher risk of complications. Furthermore, it can also cause a strain on the relationships between patients and their healthcare providers, and negatively impact the overall patient experience. In short, missed hospital appointments can have far-reaching consequences and addressing this issue is crucial for the efficient functioning of the healthcare system.
This large backlog of patients who need to be seen leads to frustration amongst both staff and patients. Disruption to the carefully planned schedules of medical personnel and unexpected changes to their workloads results in staff working longer hours, having to handle more patients than they were initially prepared for, and feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Furthermore, having to deal with the frustration and disappointment of patients who miss their appointments and then need to be rescheduled can also be challenging for staff. Over time, this can impact morale and lead to burnout among healthcare providers.
Why do patients miss their appointments?
There are many reasons that patient’s give for missing their appointments, from feeling overwhelmed or confused to preferring digital communication over appointment reminder letters. Other reasons given included not receiving appointment reminder letters in the post, feeling too ill to attend or struggling to find transportation.
Fortunately, there are a number of tech solutions on the market today that can help encourage patients to attend their appointments, ultimately saving hospitals a lot of money.
Online appointment booking
Patient portals allow patients to manage their appointments online, with easy booking, cancellation and rescheduling. Missed GP appointments are also a huge problem within healthcare, but with a patient portal, patients can manage both GP and hospital appointments in one place. A clear and user-friendly interface with simple and clear options, such as ‘Book GP appointment online’ or ‘Cancel appointment’ make the healthcare process feel less intimidating and complicated.
Digital appointment reminders
Appointment reminders can be sent in the form of text messages or emails at various intervals before the appointment date. This not only works to remind patients of upcoming appointments, but also helps to create a sense of certainty by making them aware of the next steps in their healthcare journey.
Digital wayfinding & hospital signage
To reinforce that sense of certainty and to reduce overwhelm, wayfinding links can also be added to appointment reminders. Digital maps allow patients to plan out their journey well in advance. Accessible routes and assistance equipment, such as wheelchairs, can be added to the maps so that patients who require extra support and assistance have a better idea of what they need to do in order to make their appointment. Local transport timetables can be incorporated with the maps, as well as driving, cycling and walking routes for easier journey planning.
To make digital wayfinding even more successful, it helps to have clear wayfinding signage around the hospital. Using a mixture of clear signage and interactive digital maps helps patients to find their way much more easily, making them feel more motivated to get to their appointments.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can reduce missed appointments at your hospital, we’d love to show you how our solutions can help.