Medical appointment ‘no-shows’: wasting resources

by Staff Sgt. Erin Brogan
Kaiserslautern American

Personnel at the 435th Medical Operations Squadron are concerned over the increased number of missed medical appointments.

“We try to be more efficient, but it’s a chronic problem,” stated Col. (Dr.) Jefferson Harman, 435th MOS commander.

Missing an appointment negatively impacts others; it wastes time and resources that can never be recovered. 

Rescheduling takes time away from someone else who may have a deadline to meet.

“Five to six percent of our scheduled appointments do not show,” Col. Harman said.  “If we charged a payment like we would in the civilian world, we would be losing approximately $400,000 annually.  For the last three years, we have lost approximately $1.3 million.”

He estimated that in 2006 there was an average of 4,300 ‘no shows’, roughly equaling 1,500 personnel-hours lost.

The 435th MOS realizes that sometimes missing an appointment cannot be avoided. Especially during PCS season, which is from August to October.

“I know it’s hard to cancel because you can’t call directly to the doctor; you’ve got to get through that automatic system. E-mails may or may not get read,” said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Foreman, first sergeant for the 435th Mission Support Squadron. “However, not canceling ahead of time is a lost opportunity for someone else to take your place.  [The care providers] are concentrating on one person, you.
When you are not there, it is a loss of value. The providers are on standby, the technicians are scrambling to fill the spot.”

“You can cancel as late as two hours before your appointment – but please let us know as soon as possible,” Colonel Harman said.  “The earlier you cancel your appointment, the better the opportunity for someone else to book your spot.”