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News | June 22, 2021

Care enough to call

By Brandy Ostanik-Thornton

In May, Bassett Army Community Hospital had 463 appointments go unused due to patient no-shows – individuals who miss or are more than 15 minutes late without calling to cancel or reschedule. This number equates to just over 23 appointments each day.
“This really makes me angry,” said Dawn Young when Bassett ACH reported the number on social media. “I really needed to get in a see my doctor but was told I couldn’t be seen until the end of July, beginning of August. I ended up having to go to the emergency room. I wish people would be more courteous and call if they can’t make it.” Other beneficiaries suggested repercussions such as no-show fees; which is not a decision that can be made at the hospital level. 
Of the 463 appointments throughout Bassett ACH to go unused due to no-shows, 117 of them came from the primary care clinics.
Denali Clinic: 21 no-shows
Aurora Clinic: 44 no-shows
Kenai Kids Clinic: 42 no-shows
Internal Medicine: 10 no-shows
Some specialty clinics were also hit heavily with no-shows.
OBGYN:  26
Dermatology: 14
Optometry: 46
Ortho: 23
Forgetting appointments and being a no-show has a huge impact on both the organization and the community.
“While no-shows create a financial strain on the organization, the bigger concern is the impact it creates on the beneficiaries we serve,” says Maj. William Kilgore, Chief of Clinical Support Division at Medical Department Activity - Alaska.  “These missed appointments create a snowball effect throughout not just our organization, but the community as a whole.”
When an appointment is missed, the space is not necessarily filled with the next appointment; in many cases, the slot goes unused because there is not enough time to fill it with a beneficiary in need. Worse yet, says Kilgore, many times the person who couldn’t get in for an appointment ends up in the emergency room for an issue that could have been resolved with a 15 minute appointment rather than a four hour emergency room visit.
“We are booking out until July or August in some departments," says Kilgore. "This understandably is upsetting to patients who were left going to the emergency room, or without medical care, when an appointment wasn't available. If the beneficiaries who missed appointments had called to cancel we could have given those appointments to others in need."
Kilgore is asking beneficiaries to care enough to call.
“Care enough about your friends and neighbors to call and cancel your appointment if you’re not going to be able to make it,” says Kilgore. “That courtesy will open up access to care for someone who truly needs to be seen that day.”
According to Kilgore, we ask patients to cancel appointments 24 hours in advance, but even two to three hours is helpful and gives us the opportunity to open the appointment back up as a same day appointment for someone else.
Once cancelled the appointment appears back on MHS GENESIS Patient Portal as well as at our call center as a bookable appointment.
To cancel an appointment, beneficiaries can call the appointment line at 361-4000 or cancel the appointment through MHS GENESIS Patient Portal if the appointment was booked online. Additionally, beneficiaries are given the option to confirm or cancel their appointment at the time of the reminder call.
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