Missed appointments are missed opportunities not only for the health care providers.
Patient no-shows can be harmless at first, but they can create an enormous toll on the health care system when encountered daily. Just think of no-shows as the tip of the iceberg—it probably has more layers to it than we can imagine.
Why are no-shows a big deal for providers?
A “no-show” is a non-attending person who neither uses nor cancels their reservation.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a 30% in-office no-show rate. This rate is problematic because high patient no-show rates disrupt clinic time and waste resources while leaving patients without necessary care.
Impact on clinic times
Unmet scheduled appointments would disrupt clinic workflows as well as productivity of both the provider and staff. In addition, each underutilized time slot costs a physician an average of $200 and every year, with a $150 billion cost of no-shows in the United States.
Impact on patients
More importantly, no-shows can be detrimental to the patient’s overall health. Medication adherence, preventive screening, and checkups can make acute illnesses unnoticed and will soon become chronic conditions with complications.
Patient no-shows: old barriers
Problems encountered with in-office visits involve unnecessary hassles in many aspects of a patient’s life. Some patients perceive appointments take too much time, which may create conflicting obligations with work and family. Some patients do not see the importance of a checkup when it means leaving for work. Travel times to the hospital can also create a hindrance.
Adaptation of telehealth
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the widespread adaptation of telehealth and revolutionized how health care providers conduct their consultations safely and with more flexibility than traditional clinics.
More patients are becoming more aware of telehealth and would prefer virtual visits over in-person consultations. In a recent study, telehealth has significantly reduced no-shows to 7.5%, which is lower than in-office visits of 36% during the pandemic.
It has been a year since the upswing of telehealth, and although it paved the way for many opportunities to improve our health care systems, some patients still miss their appointments. Here are a few of the new barriers of patient no-shows:
1. Socioeconomic barriers
Patients with lower socioeconomic status tend to downplay their virtual appointments due to several factors. First, while telehealth has eliminated transportation problems, some patients get paid by the hour, so losing extra time with work can be a substantive hindrance.
Second, high healthcare costs and getting regular appointments may be perceived as unnecessary, especially if patients do not feel too sick to get an appointment. Lastly, other social responsibilities like time to do household chores and family needs can also play a crucial role in no-shows today.
2. Technology barriers
Warming up to technology takes a lot of effort, especially for elderly patients who are not tech-savvy. But during these unprecedented times, more improvements have been made to reduce missed appointments and provide positive patient satisfaction.
A recent study emphasized the importance of building a connection of health care providers to their patients. However, patients feel like they did not spend as much time with their providers during telehealth visits as in-office visits. In addition, adaptation to video calls for virtual visits is less likely with patients aged more than 65. While there are still many points to improve, overall, the results gave positive satisfaction regardless of whether patients used video or phone calls.
3. Not seeing the virtual visit as an “actual appointment”
Patients think it is not the same as an in-person clinic, making them more likely to believe they can reschedule anytime. New patients are at higher stakes with no-shows because they have no patient-physician relationship, so there is no reason to be attached to their providers.
Can RPM Solve Patient No-Shows?
Remote patient monitoring may not be the definitive treatment for patient no-shows, but it undoubtedly augments collaborative care with patients and health care providers.
It becomes clear that patients these days like to take health into their own hands. Remote patient monitoring reinforces the patient-physician relationship. As a result, patients would feel more empowered to take charge of their vital sign monitoring and health in general. In addition, promoting continuous care with real-time data streaming such as DrKumo’s live function can help patients speed up treatment with collaborative data communication with their providers.
The healthcare industry has devoted significant efforts to tackling interoperability issues related to billing and payments. Similar measures must be made with clinical data exchange, eliminating barriers to interoperability for providers and patients and improving healthcare outcomes. DrKumo addresses interoperability issues by providing user-friendly solutions powered by state-of-the-art, HIPAA-compliant, mobile-enabled, continuous real-time monitoring, and AI/ML engine. With so many providers recognizing the value of RPM, it is only a matter of time before remote patient monitoring becomes a routine element of care.
Missed appointments have been a big deal even before the pandemic. Will RPM be the final cure for no-shows? Not entirely, but if RPM optimizes with telehealth, it can go a long way toward addressing causes, and it will strengthen patient-physician relationships by reinforcing collaborative care with providers.
RPM is about building connections with providers, and without this relationship, patients will not value their providers. Connections with the providers are essential to improve virtual visits and for treatments and interventions to be effective.