SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Korea Bizwire) – No-shows, those that miss appointments without prior notice, can be particularly concerning for hospitals as they can take away treatment opportunities from other patients.
According to a study by the Hyundai Research Institute, Korean hospitals and clinics experienced a no-show rate of 18 percent in 2015, which was the second highest among the five service industry sectors – restaurants, hospitals and clinics, hairdressers, express buses, and entertainment venues. The total amount of lost revenue amounted to roughly 4.5 trillion won ($4 billion) for all five sectors annually.
In order to reduce the number of such patients, the government launched a campaign earlier this year informing the public of the negative implications of no-shows, but it has been met with limited success.
The cancellation rate for medical appointments rose by a mere 3 percent, an increase from 13.6 percent before the campaign took off, indicating that over 80 percent of patients were still not showing up to appointments without prior notice.
“No-shows can financially hurt a hospital, but the bigger problem is that they take away opportunities for patients needing more urgent diagnosis or treatment,” an industry official said. “We hope that patients remember that letting hospitals know beforehand can actually help other patients with their treatment.”
Most hospitals send up to three text messages to their patients reminding them of their appointments a week prior to the set date, and for now, that is about the best they can do to prevent no-shows.
“Texting is pretty much the only thing that medical institutions can do to,” said an official from Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital. “It’s not like we can force our patients to observe their appointment dates.”
A Samsung Medical Center staff also said, “it’s not as easy to use mobile applications despite the common use of smartphones.”
“Considering the rate of mobile app usage for all age groups, texting is by far the most reliable method of notification.”
There have certainly been stronger attempts at lowering no-show cases, like the “appointment prepayment system”, in which a fee is charged if one cancels his or her appointment after a certain deadline. But institutions rarely make use of the practice out of fear of losing patients.
“There’s going to be strong opposition from the public if all hospitals implement such regulations,” said a university hospital official. “Although hospitals and clinics do want to lower their no-show rates as much as possible, it will be difficult to see any real effects without the government establishing legal guidelines.
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)