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‘No-shows’ impact mission, risk timely medical care

A graphic detailing the 341st Medical Group "late-show" and "no-show" policy.

A graphic detailing the 341st Medical Group "late-show" and "no-show" policy. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Heather Heiney)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

One of the 341st Medical Group’s top goals is to provide timely care for all of their patients, which is why they have a patient “late-show” and “no-show” policy in place.

“With the required sustainment of COVID-19 virus testing and vaccinations and the new electronic health record, MHS GENESIS, going live, the medical group is quite busy,” said Maj. Rashida Brown, 341st Medical Group group practice manager. “If you ‘no-show’ your appointment, you risk not being able to receive timely care.”

Late-shows are defined as patients who arrive more than ten minutes late to their scheduled appointment. In order to prevent a major impact to the provider’s schedule, the clinic will offer to work the patient in with the same or a different provider, if possible, before the end of the day.

The provider will be consulted prior to allowing the patient to depart the clinic as a safety measure. If the patient chooses to reschedule their appointment, the patient will be assisted by the clinic staff to schedule a new appointment prior to the patient’s departure, but they will also be marked as a no-show.

Patients with extraordinary circumstances, or a medical condition they believe warrants treatment that day, may request to be assessed by a nurse.

“It is important to notify the clinic as soon as possible if you are going to be late or can’t make your appointment, so we can adjust the provider’s schedule or make that appointment available to other patients who may be calling with acute concerns,” Brown said. “The demand for appointments is high and we can’t afford for valuable appointments to go unutilized.”

Patients failing to show for their appointment or cancelling within one hour of the appointment will also be reported as no-show.

The provider will assess each no-show and facilitate contact with the patient on a case-by-case basis. For urgent appointment needs, or mandatory appointments, the clinic will follow up with the patient to address or reschedule appointments within 72 hours. Additionally, no-shows will be reported to the patient’s unit commander. 

“An increased number of no-shows can impact the medical group’s ability to support our primary mission and the Personnel Reliability Assurance Program,” Brown said. “When patients don’t show up, we can’t ensure they are medically ready to perform their duties.”

According to Brown, no-shows cost the Air Force in time to rearrange schedules and create additional access, while also costing taxpayers money when they have to supplement care by sending beneficiaries to seek care off base.

Also, no-shows and late-shows can impact the wing’s mission because they can potentially increase the amount of time individuals are away from their work centers if they are not seen as soon as possible or even risk severe healthcare issues if not caught in time.

 “When you don’t show up, it impacts all of us,” Brown said.

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