Most of the no-shows at academic medical centers were for mammography appointments, according to the study, published in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology. The study also took into consideration missed appointments for MRI brain scans, CT chest scans, ultrasound abdomen scans, CT head scans and ultrasound breast scans.
“Each no-show appointment represents a missed opportunity to deliver appropriate care as well as to receive payment for that patient visit,” wrote the researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle, and Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Burlington, Mass. “In modalities that have fixed costs like radiotracers or specialty technologists, there is an added fixed component to the already substantial opportunity cost.”
Even when an inpatient or stand-by patient takes the appointment, hospitals may lose money due to the costs of staff preparatory work such as insurance authorization, scheduling time, and protocoling. Hospitals bear the burden of these costs because most do not penalize no-shows for radiology appointments, the researchers wrote.
Hospitals lose up to $15,000 per year for each missed breast ultrasound and up to $350,000 per year for each mammography. Brain MRI, abdomen ultrasound and mammography screening each exceeded $100,000 of uncaptured revenue per year. Uncaptured annual revenue due to these exams alone was estimated to approach $700,000.