Missing the point on missed appointments

A recent BBC Health article highlighted the cost of “no shows”.

It’s a downside with providing a perceived free service. If you get it for free you don’t value it. I wonder what the comparative no show rates are for private paid for clinics?

Some clinics are over-booking patients in anticipation. This merely devalues the service. Consider your reaction if you got bumped off an airline despite having a valid booking.
(c) BBC News
They shouldn’t be spending all their time chasing down missed appointments. It’s a natural element of a “free” service.
Instead their focus should be on making better use of the resultant downtime.
What complimentary services could their medical staff provide to patients which don’t require appointment setting?

The public service trade union said primary care trusts should find ways of reminding patients of their appointments, which could include text or e-mail alerts. Surely the focus should be on post appointment support?

Looking at therapy services, the number of follow up visits by patients could be reduced if some patients put more effort into carrying out the recommended exercises. So why don’t the physios use their downtime to email or text patients between appointments?

Alternatively, provide an online physio service where the patient doesn’t have to communicate with the physio at a set appointment time. The patient provides their details & the physio responds & treats them online when they aren’t in an appointment. The beneficial side effect being that this decimates waiting lists.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted August 18, 2009 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    When dealing with health, the general public are naturally wary of step changes.
    Then again the health industry are very slow to adopt new techniques and have a responsibility to adapt the industry to meet the current lifestyles where appointments are an increasing inconvenience.

  2. Mathew Taylor
    Posted August 17, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Good points well made.

    On this very subject I heard an opinion last night on the radio, where everyone (bar pensioners and relevant benefit claimants etc) should pay £5 each time they visit their doctor or dentist, this would boost coffers but also perhaps reduce ‘no-shows’.

    Not sure if it would work, and agree that on-line services (by professionals) is the way ahead. NHS Direct, if reputation continues to fall, may stumble this option but with more high quality sites run by professionals, hopefully the internet will assist.

    When people are ill, they regularly turn to the internet but get poor advice, collectively we need to pass, by word of mouth and recommendation, good trusted sites to ease the burden and reduce the no-shows.

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