Case cancellations are bad news for any practice. Cancellations result in empty operating rooms (ORs) and wreak havoc with schedules. When patients fail to show up for their scheduled surgery, practices suffer a loss of time and resources, and their revenue is negatively affected. Reasons for patient “no-shows” vary from patient to patient and practice to practice - ranging from personal reasons, to medical and financial related issues.
A survey by the Outpatient Surgery Magazine reveals that an inability to pay for surgery procedures, as a result of high out-of-pocket expenses, is typically the prime reason for case cancellation by patients. A stunning 43.8 percent of respondents attributed cancellations to their inability to meet their out-of-pocket medical obligations. Thus, many patients today make cancellations simply because they believe they are unable to afford medical expenses not covered by insurance.
In general, healthcare facilities need at least a 3-day cancellation notice to fill the schedule with someone else on their waiting list or offer the slot to another surgeon. The survey reveals that only 34.4 percent of patients cancel a few days before their scheduled surgery. Patients usually give too little notice - 46.9 percent cancel the day before the surgery and 15.6 percent cancel on the day of surgery.
While cancellations are inevitable, they pose a major challenge for practices when they become a regular occurrence. One noteworthy point is that a practice can significantly reduce their occurrence of cancellations by following best practices. Here’s 3 tips you can adopt to reduce cancellations by patients, particularly cancellations related to their financial situation:
Engage with Patients Early
Multiple touchpoint strategies such as having patients provide information on their health history online, collecting copays in advance, reminding patients before the surgery date through email, text, or phone call can be helpful to prevent case cancellations. However, practices likely need to probe further, as the decisions for cancellations are most often personal to patients.
Even with plenty of patient engagement, many patients will still end up not showing up for surgery after several phone calls, email reminders, and/or automated text messages. Sadly, some decline to show up for a scheduled surgery even after consenting because they have not raised sufficient funds to cover for their medical expenses. Last minute cancellations would not be surprising under this situation. A medical practice needs to probe deeper by conducting some research or surveying their patients.
Know the Patient’s Ability to Pay
Patients will not hesitate to cancel their appointments when they find that they cannot meet their financial obligations for a surgery. A “same-day cancellation” study was conducted at a teaching hospital and revealed that 71.6 percent of cancellations are related to financial issues. One solution is to partner with a patient financial servicing company who can identify patients’ propensity to pay and offer financial services they can afford.
This will help sort out the complexities involved in coinsurance and copay arrangements. As such, many cancellations can be avoided altogether.
Collect Ahead of Time & Introduce Patient Financial Solutions
Collecting copays, coinsurance and deductibles well in advance of a surgery is a key strategy to reduce case cancellations. Doing so; patients already have a measure of “skin in the game” and are therefore less likely to cancel. Collecting the patient’s responsibility can be done anywhere from 1 week to 3 days before the scheduled surgery.
However, some patients might be able to pay their copay but have difficulty in meeting their deductibles. This is where patient financial solutions come in to play. A practice can implement zero or low-interest payment plans to ease the financial burden of patients. Flexible payment plans enable patients to easily settle their out-of-pocket obligations and serve as a motivation for them to show up on their scheduled surgery dates.
Can You Predict and Eliminate Cancellations and “No Shows?”
Samaurai Physician thinks so. Advances in artificial intelligence and analytics have allowed Samurai Physician, an emerging partner with Mnet, to accurately and consistently predict and eliminate cancellations and no shows. Samurai Physician offers Katana – a “no show” solution that not only predicts the patients that won’t show but also makes use of “smart action” to cure the problem.
What Mnet Health Offers
Mnet Health is highly experienced in optimizing self-pay collections in a responsible way through finance solutions that leverage technology to simplify the payment process for patients and providers. What makes Mnet unique is the patient call center which ensures that both patients and providers achieve the best outcomes in patient collection through trained agents and intelligent use of patient ability-to-pay scoring technology. Mnet excels in patient financial education, offering sensible finance options and unparalleled focus on delivering a high-quality financial services experience to patients.