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Forgetfulness Leads to Missed Appointments

Missed appointments cost dermatologists time and money, and in clinics with long wait times can prevent patients from being seen in a timely manner. A recent study published in Cutis sought to quantify the rate of misses, and the factors that lead to missed appointments at an academic dermatology clinic.

In the one-year study period, researchers collected data from electronic medical records and examined variables including age, race, sex, primary language, employment status, zip code, appointment time, insurance coverage, scheduled provider, patient status (new vs returning), and the nature of the visit (cosmetic vs noncosmetic visits and procedural vs nonprocedural visits). Of the 28,772 appointments scheduled during the study period, 5584 (19.4%) were missed.

Follow-up phone calls were placed to a sample of patients to evaluate patient-reported factors associated with missed dermatology appointments. The demographic data suggested that characteristics associated with higher rates of missed appointments tended to reflect physical or financial barriers; however less than 10% of the survey respondents reported that those reasons were the actual cause of their missed appointment. Of the patients surveyed, 35% stated that they forgot about the appointment, and 24% reported that they had not been reminded of the appointment.

The authors write that the results suggest physicians can introduce more effective methods of communication for patient reminders. Further, identifying patients’ preferred contact methods (telephone call, text message, etc.) and verifying contact information may be cost-effective ways to reduce missed appointments in dermatology offices.

Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Adapted from the original article.


[image by Juli]

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