Patients don’t always show up for procedures. That’s a hassle, but it’s also costing you a lot, especially if you have expensive equipment sitting idle. How much can it cost you? According to recent study published in Academic Radiology, outpatient no-shows for scheduled imaging exams can cost a radiology department up $1,000,000 in lost revenue.

The no-show study for radiology departments

The study, led by Rebecca Mieloszyk, PhD, a radiology professor and radiologist solutions scientist at Philips Healthcare, looked at data from American hospital radiology departments. Her team found that no-show rates were highest with mammography, though departments also faced missed appointment losses in MRI brain scans, CT scans ultrasound breast scans.  Regarding mammography, the study suggested that missed appointments “may be due to screening exams being viewed by the patient as easily deferred.”  

The $1,000,000 in lost revenue is just one way of looking at the problem of no-shows. The actual costs might be higher. If nothing else, a no-show might signify a patient who will never return – representing a lifetime of lost revenue. There could be a bad service experience underscoring the patient defection, which will tarnish your brand through negative word-of-mouth. However, on a purely financial basis, missed appointments create losses on multiple fronts.

Ouch! Cost of capital

Medical equipment is expensive. Whether it’s leased, paid for with debt or purchased for cash, equipment carries a high time-based cost. An hour of idle time has a measurable expense (cost per month ÷ monthly hours of operation.) Thus, if your MRI machine has a monthly lease payment of $5,000 and is available for use 160 hours per month, an idle hour costs $31.25. 

That may not seem like much, but the cost of the equipment is only a fraction of the cost of idle capacity. The machine takes up space in a facility, which has its own high overhead for rent (or mortgage cost), utilities, insurance and so forth. To assess the cost of a no-show, it’s necessary to know how your facility allocates overhead to departments. Your MRI machine might have thousands of dollars of overhead charged to its operation every month.

Ouch! Cost of idle personnel

A missed appointment translates into an operator sitting around with nothing to do. How much does this cost? It depends, but the full-allocated cost of personnel is usually a multiple of their hourly salaries. That sum must be assigned to the no-show cost analysis.

Ouch! Cost of admin for rescheduling!

When a patient doesn’t show up, someone (who is being paid a salary) usually has to get on the phone and reschedule the appointment. This may not sound like a huge problem, but the process might also involve calling the referring physicians office, missing calls, leaving messages, filing new service requests and so forth. There are overheads to be considered in this phase of the process as well.

Solving the no-show problem

Getting patients to show up for their appointments is partly a matter of clear communication and attentiveness. However, software can make a big difference. iProHealthcare’s iOrder system, for example, helps you track appointments. It creates patient reminders and provides a simple mechanism for rescheduling without a lot of manual processes.

To learn how iOrder’s can help reduce no-show costs in your healthcare business, visit