A frequently cited study claims that the American healthcare system loses $150 billion every year due to missed appointments. (1)
The study performs some interesting acrobatics to get to that figure. Still, we can all agree that missed patient appointments definitely cost every healthcare practice a ton of money. But, the impact of missed patient appointments doesn’t stop at the immediate loss of revenue.
In fact, here are six more ways in which missed patients appointments are slowly but surely destroying your practice’s bottom line — including half a month of your time, decreased morale and productivity, and an increased risk of permanent patient drop-off.

6 Ways Missed Patients Appointments Hurt Your Bottom Line

#1 Missed Appointment Cost Time

Missed appointments quickly erase any flexibility you had in your schedule.

Healthcare providers spend an average 60 minutes per missed appointment, just for the treatment time. (1) Your own wasted time may be even longer, particularly if it’s a new patient who missed their intake session or another longer appointment slot.

Then, there’s the administrative time that was wasted. Scheduling calls alone eat up 8.1 minutes on average. (2)

So, if you commit to calling every missed appointment? You’re looking at over 17 business days spent just following up on missed appointments!

#2 Missed Appointment Cost a Dropped Future Appointments

The opportunity cost of missed appointments covers not just the actual missed appointment itself, but also any future appointments, too.

Studies with primary care providers show that patients who miss an appointment become 70% more likely not to return within the next 18 months. (3)

The trend holds true across generations. (3)

Younger patients up to 30 years old tend to leave those practices over 40% of the time, if they miss even one appointment; those patients who don’t only leave 29% of the time.
Attrition rates for older patients 31 years old and up increase from 57% to 73%, compared to their punctual peers.
So, missed appointments mean lost income in the future, as well as today.

#3 Cost in Patient Health When Disease or Illness Becomes Chronic

The oldest patients — those older than 65 years of age — tend to have the highest increase in attrition rates after missing one or more doctors’ appointments.

They’re also the patients who are most likely to have their illnesses turn into chronic conditions without early and regular treatment. (3)

Any patients of yours that miss even one appointment put themselves at greater risk of long-term health problems than those who make an effort to attend — or manage to remember, as the case may be.

#4 Missed Appointment Cost Increased Risk of Patient Complications

The same study observed that patients with severe illnesses or diagnoses that invite complications — such as cancer, diabetes, asthma, or arthritis — are actually some of the patients most likely to leave a practice after just one missed appointment. (3)

This trend is downright dangerous for these high-risk patients. Without ongoing close care and management of their conditions by providers like you, they are at drastically increased risk of complications — possibly life-threatening ones.

In these cases, missed appointments not only become a risk to revenue, but also to your patients’ quality of life, at the very least.

#5 Missed Appointment Cost Lost Patient Satisfaction

Missed appointments can cause ripple effects down your entire schedule, increasing wait times or delays between patient sessions for those who do show up for treatment.

Observational studies and provider anecdotes all suggest a correlation between appointment wait times and patient satisfaction rates. The longer the wait, the lower a patient’s satisfaction with their care. (2)

And, as we’ve previously discussed, patient satisfaction has huge implications on your practice’s revenue and referrals.

#6 Cost in Low Provider Morale and Lost Productivity

It’s hard not to take a missed appointment personally.

As your mind offers a series of rational explanations for the patient who’s missing-in-action — bad traffic, missed transportation, illness, a sudden death in the family, their dog went missing — your emotions can ignore the rational and jump directly to feelings of self-worth.

(“If they really cared about me and their own progress, then they would’ve showed up!”)

The more missed appointments, the greater an emotional toll starts to weigh on you and your fellow staff members. The risk here, is that you or your employees become disengaged with their work — as if there’s no point to showing up if the patients can’t be bothered. (4)

Extrapolating from a massive cross-industry Gallup study, a practice with disengaged providers or staff results in:

  • 81% increased absenteeism,
  • 18% decreased productivity,
  • 23% lower profitability, and
  • 10% lower customer (read, “patient”) loyalty and engagement

… when compared with practices with engaged employees and higher morale. (5)

Ultimately, those costs means $3,400 of lost productivity for every $10,000 salary paid per disengaged employee. (6)

Can your practice really afford to lose that much money, especially due to something like missed appointments that can be easily fixed?

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Sign up for our newsletter, so you can read up on our follow-up article to this: How to fix missed appointments and increase your patient engagement and satisfaction without spending a ton of money or energy.


1 Grier, J. (2017, April 26). Missed appointments cost the U.S. healthcare system $150B each year. Healthcare Innovation. https://www.hcinnovationgroup.com/clinical-it/article/13008175/missed-appointments-cost-the-us-healthcare-system-150b-each-year.
2 Ekram, T. (2020, October 8). How Much Are No-Shows and Cancellations Costing You? Luma Health. https://www.lumahealth.io/blog/how-much-are-cancelled-appointments-no-shows-costing-you/.
3 Hayhurst, C. (2019, May 19). No-show effect: Even one missed appointment risks retention. AthenaHealth. https://www.athenahealth.com/knowledge-hub/financial-performance/no-show-effect-even-one-missed-appointment-risks-retention.
4 Practice leaders report their biggest challenges with appointments are no-shows and appointment availability. MGA: Medical Group Management Association. (2017, October 3). https://www.mgma.com/data/data-stories/practice-leaders-report-their-biggest-challenges-w.
5 How to Improve Employee Engagement in the Workplace. Gallup. (2021, July 5). https://www.gallup.com/workplace/285674/improve-employee-engagement-workplace.aspx#ite-285782.
6 The True Cost of Disengaged Employees to Businesses. XL.net. (2021, January 5). https://xl.net/thought-leadership/cost-employee-disengagement.