OHSU-VA research suggests strategies to reduce missed appointments

September 17, 2020

Researchers from Oregon Health & Science University and the VA Portland Health Care System conducted in-depth interviews with patients at the VA and came up with a series of six recommendations to reduce the number of times patients miss appointments.

The study is published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

"No-shows are a big deal because they are a really preventable source of inefficiency in the health care system," said lead author Alan Teo, M.D., M.S., associate professor of psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine and a researcher and psychiatrist at the VA. "Previous research suggests that patients who miss visits are at a higher risk of negative health outcomes, so this is an important population of patients to be thinking about and taking better care of."

From an economic standpoint, missed appointments set off a cascade of costs in the health care system, through the ripple effect created by patients, clinicians and medical assistants in rescheduling.

Previous research led by Teo indicated that directly connecting by telephone with an advance reminder reduces no-shows considerably. The new research expands on that finding through a series of systematic interviews conducted with 27 patients seen at the VA in Portland.

Based on that feedback, researchers developed six key recommendations for appointment reminders, underscored by illustrative quotes from patients:
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This study was supported by a grant IIR 17-134 from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Office of Research and Development, Health Services Research and Development. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. government.

Oregon Health & Science University
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