Missed appointments or no-shows are defined as "patients who neither kept nor canceled their scheduled appointments". Studies conducted previously in primary care settings found that the rates of missed appointments in the United States vary from 5% to 55%. We conducted a pilot study amongst the healthcare providers at Griffin Faculty Physicians (GFP) and Griffin Hospital Wellness Clinic (GHWC).
We conducted a telephone survey in which the patients who missed scheduled appointments from July-September 2016 at GFP and January-September 2016 for GHWC were contacted by telephone from August-October 2016 following a standard script. We examined the free text data from the telephone survey relating to reasons for missed appointments and discussed and categorized the main themes. We used SAS 9.4 for the data analysis.
Out of a total of 675 patients who missed their appointments, 218 (32.3%) attended the telephone calls. Out of these 218 patients, 82 (37.6%) reported that they forgot about their appointment or did not know that they had an appointment. 35 (16.1%) of the patients reported personal issues as the reason for missing their appointments. 15 (6.9%) of the patients reported a lack of transportation as the reason for not completing their appointment.
This study emphasized the need for more research for a better understanding of the problem. We made recommendations for prompting patients about their upcoming appointments, helping patients get transportation to healthcare facilities and making efforts to ensure better communication between the patients and the healthcare providers to understand the complex interplay between personal, systemic and financial barriers in completing appointments.