EMR data can help radiologists predict patient no-shows

The cost of patient no-show visits (NSVs) goes beyond wasting valuable time, it also includes financial losses due to scheduling, down time for imaging machinery and lost opportunities to treat or follow-up with a patient.  

study recently published in Journal of the American College of Radiology tested to evaluate if patient data provided by electronic medical records (EMRs) can help radiologists predict the probability of patients failing to show up to imaging appointments. 

Researchers performed the study at an academic medical center with a large referral base serving Eastern Massachusetts. The researchers analyzed data taken from 54,652 patient imaging exam appointments scheduled from the first three months of 2016 and recorded whether or not each patient attended their examination.  

Additionally, variables available in the EMR such as demographic and clinical information, health services utilization and estimated average household income based on each patient's geographical location were also recorded for each appointment.  

Of the 54,652 patient appointments recorded for the study, 6.5 percent were no-shows, researchers concluded. According to study results, no-show rates were the highest for mammographies and CT scans and lowest for PET and MRI. Patient and past examination information that is easily accessible in the EMR can be used to predict radiology no-show visits successfully.  

"Moving forward, this information can be proactively leveraged to identify patients who might benefit from additional patient engagement through appointment reminders or other targeted interventions to avoid no-shows," stated lead author of the study H. Benjamin Harvey, MD, JD. 

Demographically, researchers also found that patients who identified being in their early 20s and late 40s, male, Black and obtained Medicaid insurance were the highest among those with no-show visit status.   

"Studies such as ours that attempt to understand missed care opportunities or patient adherence often expose realities about socioeconomic and demographic barriers to health care access," Harvey said. "Although uncomfortable, it is only by exposing and understanding these disparities that we can start to develop effective patient-centered strategies to heal them."