May 19, 2023 | Net Health

2 min read

Tired of Missed and Late Appointments? Take These Steps!

No-shows and last-minute cancellations make up an unfortunate aspect of doing business in outpatient rehab therapy.

This can be a true wakeup call for newer practitioners when successful efforts to fill the clinic’s schedule through marketing and referrals still result in a missed-visit rate of one in every four patients.1

But why do so many patients consistently miss their scheduled appointments And, once we know the whys, what can be done to improve the odds of more patients showing up?

According to one study, the top reason for missed appointments is based on simple human nature: patients forget.

Why Patients Miss Appointments

The study, published in 2018, resulted from a telephone survey of patients who had recently canceled medical appointments or failed to show up. Surveyors asked each one, “Why didn’t you make it?

Of those they spoke with, a whopping 37.6% said they forgot about the appointment or didn’t know they had an appointment scheduled.2

Other reasons for canceling or not showing up included:

  • Personal or work-related issues (16.1%)
  • Transportation issues (6.9%)
  • Feeling too sick to come to the appointment (5.5%)
  • Problems with insurance coverage (5%)
  • Dissatisfaction or negative emotions tied to the clinic/practitioner (4.1%)

While some of these reasons can be broken into more nuanced categories, the consequences of each failure to show are the same.

In outpatient healthcare, missed visits typically cost practitioners between $160 to $200 per incident.3 And since patients with just a single missed appointment are twice as likely to prematurely self-discharge,4 missed revenue and lower patient outcomes can make each incident much more costly.

That’s why it’s crucial outpatient rehab therapy clinics have a multi-tiered strategy for reducing missed appointments.

Tips to Reduce No-Shows, Cancellations in Rehab Therapy

In response to the near-universal need to minimize the number of last-minute cancellations and no-shows in outpatient rehab therapy, our experts at Net Health have compiled a list of practitioner-proven strategies.

We pulled these tips into a single ebook, which we currently offer for free on our website. Titled Tired of No-Shows? Check out These Tips for Preventing Cancellations in Rehab Therapy this ebook takes a more in-depth look at the reasons behind missed visits and their impact on rehab clinics across the U.S.

We then provide five top strategies we want to see implemented throughout outpatient rehab therapy. This includes using a first-of-its-kind predictive analytics tool, the Missed Visit Prediction Indicator, that harnesses the power of data to determine the likelihood that individual patients may miss future appointments.

To learn more about how your rehab therapy team can vastly reduce missed appointments at your outpatient clinic, download our free ebook today.


1National Library of Medicine, “Data Analytics and Modeling for Appointment No-Shows in Community Health Centers,” Nov. 17, 2018

2Journal of Family Medicine and Disease Prevention, “Why Do Patients Miss Their Appointments at Primary Care Clinics?” Sept. 28, 2018

3,4Healthcare Innovation, “Missed Appointments Cost the U.S. Healthcare System $150B Each Year,” April 26, 2017

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