Patient no-shows are a constant and costly source of frustration. Each year, about 3.6 million patients (including 950,000 children) in the U.S. miss or delay medical care because of issues related to transportation—car won’t start, a ride to the appointment falls through, or public transportation wasn’t reliable.
In a study published by BMC Health Services Research, researchers found that the average no-show rate for community hospitals was 62 appointments daily, at an annual cost of $3 million. Teaching hospitals experience a 25-percent no-show rate and 31-percnet late arrival rate. Researchers found that no-shows and cancellations represented 31-percent of overall scheduled appointments among approximately 45,000 patients per year at a large family practice center with an estimated total annual revenue shortfall up to 14-percent.
To even add to the frustration, the study also found that automatic reminder systems did not significantly reduce the no-show rate.
New technology is allowing hospitals and providers other options to cut-down on costly no-shows.
Hackensack UMC recently partnered with Uber to try and cut down on its no-show and late arrivals as well as give patients a better overall experience. A 775-bed teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. On any given day, it’s estimated about 10,000 patients and employees go through its doors.
Hackensack UMC will assist in supporting the cost of Uber trips home from the medical center for those in need, and both Uber and Hackensack UMC will implement features within their apps to facilitate pick-ups and drop-offs at different locations across the campus.
“We are proud to partner with Uber for this one-of-a-kind service that will make healthcare more accessible to our patients, team members and visitors who cite transportation as an obstacle to care,” said Robert C. Garrett, president and chief executive officer, Hackensack University Health Network in a released statement.
MedStar in the Washington D.C. area has launched a pilot program currently running at 15 different locations, also utilizing Uber services. The collaboration is in response according to the $4.2 billion health system, to patients who miss appointments or have to reschedule at the last minute often cite transportation issues as a factor.
Statistics from the first 10 sites show that Uber gave rides to about 200 people who otherwise would have missed appointments.
In addition to Uber services, the Hackensack UMC launched an app earlier this year to help reduce the number of cancellations and no-shows. Upon opening the app, users are presented with four primary options: They can make an appointment, reschedule an existing appointment, search for a specific physician, check their symptoms or receive directions to a nearby care facility. A drop down menu one click away from the dashboard includes the ability to check emergency room wait times, hospital news or access medical records.