Major Impact of a Missed Non Emergency Medical Appointment

With the average no-show rate of 62 appointments a day, the annual cost of missed appointments is 3 million USD per hospital. There are multifold reasons for such a gap between providers, patient transportation services, and the end customer – patients. 

One major cause is hospitals still utilizing manual operations instead of cutting edge technology to manage patient care. Without proper non emergency medical transportation (NEMT) software to get patients to their appointments on time, the first step in the whole NEMT funnel is missing. How would patients get proper care if there is no service available to get to their appointments on time? Or, perhaps, where should the patient book the appointment / track it, while providers simultaneously get better access to medical cab management to reduce patient readmission rates?

A missed appointment not only costs a lot in monetary terms, but also creates a nationwide health crisis. Think about it! Today, you miss one of your appointments due to the lack of availability of a car/reliable public transport. Eventually, more people who need access to ongoing care face similar difficulties. Doesn’t that build up a cycle of continued faulty processes leading to major healthcare concerns? Let’s visualize the impact that lack of non emergency medical transportation can have on different sides of the healthcare spectrum.

Impact on Hospitals

When a patient misses a scheduled appointment, the hospital’s allotted time slot gets wasted. Dissipated time and effort leads to a major impact on the overall revenue, as the hospital is neither able to treat existing or long-term patients nor acquire new patients in the meantime. There might be multiple reasons why patients are not able to reach their appointments on time: 

  • Not having a valid driver’s license
  • Not having a working vehicle available in the household
  • Not having access to medical cabs
  • Having a physical, cognitive, mental, or developmental limitation; or
  • Unable to use or access public transportation or find it unreliable

According to the American Hospital Association, 3.6 million individuals forego medical care each year due to transportation issues including lack of vehicle access.  In fact, the cost to the healthcare industry from missed or cancelled appointments due to avoidable transportation issues amounts to $10 billion every year in the US. Transportation is a major barrier when it comes to ongoing healthcare and medication access, something that hospitals depend upon for their income. Common transportation issues include lack of vehicle access, long distances and lengthy travel times to reach needed patient services, and heavy transportation costs. Learn more about the barriers a weak non-emergency transportation system can create in our blog – (Transportation and Health: Joining the dots).

You might think that patients can be brought to their appointments by regularly checking up with them over the phone. But, there is another side to this story. Studies show that the average length of a phone call spent scheduling a medical appointment is 8.1 minutes. That’s almost ten minutes of an individual hospital staff’s time spent for every patient who wants to schedule an appointment! Hence, manual follow-ups would result in more time & effort spent and still result in limited but persistent no-shows.  

For hospitals, no-shows are a matter of more than time or money. The entire hospital’s well-being is at stake. To reduce no-shows and travel issues, it is better to predict them before they happen. This can be done by making use of data-driven solutions that enable “intelligent scheduling” and predict no-shows with great accuracy. Well-built, secure, and reliable NEMT software solutions that can manage transportation issues and keep a track of patient appointments simultaneously, need to be adopted.

Impact on Patients

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all adults in the US have a chronic disease (6 in 10), and 4 in 10 American adults have two or more acute diseases. Clearly, reliable patient transportation is a dire need, especially for patients with terminal illnesses who need consistent post-acute care management. Chronic disease care needs regular clinician visits, medication access, and changes to treatment plans in order to provide evidence-based care.

However, without transportation, delays in clinical interventions become inevitable. Such delays in care may lead to chronic disease exacerbations or unmet health care needs, which can accumulate and lead to adverse healthcare outcomes. 

For Example, a patient who has trouble scheduling an appointment on day 6 of their post-acute treatment journey will likely go through a similar experience on day 55 in their treatment tenure. 

Adding to the transportation and appointment scheduling issues, missed medical appointments result in disruption of patient care and provider-patient relationships, delayed care & increased emergency department visits.

A recent Accenture survey shows 77 percent of patients think that the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is important. But, two major concerns when patients make use of NEMT related applications are trusting a transportation service to get them to their appointments and the thought of having to use complicated UI to schedule one. 

Both these challenges can be resolved by utilizing advanced NEMT software solutions. One that offers secure third-party integrations with transportation vendors, with a user-friendly interface for minimal end-user decision-making required.

The application will also prepare providers in a better way, keeping track of each patient’s appointment scheduling/ rescheduling automatically. The more prepared healthcare providers are for non-emergency medical appointments, the better the patient outcomes and population healthcare management.

The Potential in Redefining Non-Emergency Medical Transportation

Every $1 spent on non-emergency medical transportation saves $11 in healthcare costs, according to a return on investment (ROI) study published by Florida State University. 

While bridging the gaps between providers, patients and transporters might be cumbersome, the benefits make it worthwhile. A well-coordinated patient transportation plan can drastically reduce hospital time by freeing up beds sooner, thus reducing strain on resources and staff alike. It can prepare both patients and providers to embark on a reliable & well-planned healthcare journey, managing health-related risks efficiently. 

Apart from the timely care advantage, removing patient transportation as a barrier to healthcare has more tangible benefits: 

  • Decreased length of hospital stays
  • Improved Patient wait times and access to care
  • Higher physician satisfaction and engagement
  • Smart Scheduling to maximize capacity and utilization of hospital resources
  • Delivery of medical supplies/prescriptions to a patient’s doorstep for faster recovery
  • Better prepared hospitals after well-planned medical rides
  • Decreased patient readmission rates
  • Lower administrative costs

A huge advantage that non emergency transportation holds is for the COVID vaccine distribution. NEMT can accelerate the process of COVID vaccination by enabling people to reach their appointments on time, supporting efforts to bring the pandemic to an end, efficiently and without wastage of key resources.

Afterword

Opting for technologically advanced NEMT software solutions will ensure that patients get timely access to care. When providers will be able to communicate with them online and know their appointment schedule heads on, the result will be higher patient retention and an increase in the number of new patients. Once medical practices invest in adopting an efficient solution, a successful future for non emergency medical transportation is assured. SourceFuse is continuously building cutting-edge technology to revolutionize patient transportation services. Contact us to know more about our solutions.