Same-day surgery cancellations may be costing your hospital millions annually. According to a Tulane Study, the New Orleans Medical Center experienced 327 same day surgery cancellations in 2009 alone – or about 7% of their total overall surgeries – leading to over $1 million dollars in lost revenue.

The good news is there are several ways to help prevent some of these same-day cancellations from happening in the first place by giving patients the right tools they need to view and manage their care plan. Here are 3 unique ways to address this problem at your hospital or medical center:

1. Promote the utilization of appointment reminders

Surgery appointment reminders

The harsh reality of the situation according to research is that 39.4 percent of same-day surgery cancellations can be prevented through the use of reminder texts and calls, but notifications is another effective strategy to consider.

Having access to when appointments occur can be a huge benefit for keeping patients aware of the situation. For me personally, dental checkups usually sneak up on me, even if I have them marked on my calendar. I would much rather open an app and view all of my previous and upcoming appointments, as well as any other details important to know.

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Many providers already utilize text messaging to notify patients, but lack convenient options (like apps) to provide visibility into what to expect, when to arrive, and other critical information patients need.

While there are EMR vendors that provide some of these functions within a patient portal, hospitals are beginning to provide specific mobile applications for this intended purpose. Having an app to access health records is a start, but having a dedicated solution designed for a single purpose (like hip surgery for example) provides a much better user experience.

2. Pre-op reminders to ensure patients are prepared for surgery

preparing for surgery

Many cancellations stem from the fact that patients sometimes forget to fast prior to a surgery, causing unnecessary cancellations that can sometimes lead to lost revenues in the event that the appointment doesn’t get rescheduled at your facility. Making sure patients understand the entire perioperative process is an initiative we are working with hospital to continually improve.

A few ideas we have seen over the past few years include:

  • Reminders to notify patients when to begin fasting prior to surgery, and what is permitted
  • Packing lists and what to bring
  • Bathing instructions
  • Indoor wayfinding to help patients get to where they need to be on-time
  • Information on parking and arrival instructions

While your organization may continue to send text messages or calls, apps can take personalization a step further and give patients an easier way to set alerts on their phone, as well as a comprehensive overview of the entire surgical process and what to expect.

3. Keep communication open among family members and caregivers

communication with family

When thinking about how to reduce the rate of missed appointments, establishing clear communication among each patient’s family or care team is another great strategy for helping to reduce cancellations. Making this simple, yet important information clear and concise can add another level of protection for healthcare providers by promoting accountability.

Keeping caregivers and family members aware of what’s taking place can be done in a variety of ways using a combination of text-messaging, phone calls, confirmation emails, or push notifications.

In the future, giving increased visibility and access the entire surgical process will be a reality in healthcare, as hospitals and health systems continue to implement technology to save money – with missed appointments being a key initiative.

What additional strategies does your team use to reduce no-shows? Let us know below if you have any other helpful tips to be aware of!