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No shows cost lost dollars

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- As part of a continuing and comprehensive look at all areas of the Hill Air Force Base Clinic operations to make it operate as effectively as possible, the 75th Medical Group has used lean processes to identify areas to concentrate their efforts.

More than 8,300 appointments were lost to the 75th Medical Group at Hill Air Force Base due to clinic no-shows in 2006. The no-show numbers were contributed by active duty, retirees, and their family members. 

A no-show is defined as a beneficiary who doesn't show up to their appointment, a same-day cancellation, and patients who show up more than 10 minutes late to their scheduled appointment.

Quality healthcare is a benefit offered to eligible beneficiaries and although the cost may be transparent during the appointment, the benefit is not free.

"It is important that every beneficiary realize that missed appointments have a significant effect on our healthcare system," said Capt. Lisa Carr, group practice manager for the 75 MDG. "By the time a patient is declared a no-show, it is often too late to recycle that appointment and an additional patient, who could have been scheduled, misses the opportunity to see a healthcare provider."

The growing numbers of no-shows significantly impacts the Air Force. According to Capt. Stephanie Ryder, group practice manager for the 75 MDG, the average cost of an appointment is $230.

Another area of impact are the notifications to commanders regarding no-shows, which currently run upward of 40 per month.

"At the end of fiscal year 2006, unused appointments cost $1.9M at Hill AFB," Captain Ryder said. "These are precious resources that could have been used to benefit our beneficiaries."

The 75 MDG requests each beneficiary honor their scheduled appointments to help reduce the costs tracked to missed appointments. Beneficiaries who are 10 minutes late will be asked to reschedule. To cancel an appointment call 1-800-453-2388 and select option #1 at least 24 hours in advance.

"The beneficiary is responsible for their schedules and our clinic is here as providers.  Together, we should be working to meet the individuals healthcare needs," Captain Ryder said. 

(Capts. Stephanie Ryder and Lisa Carr contributed to this article)