No shows – when patients miss scheduled rides without canceling – have plagued non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) providers for years. While no-shows are frustrating and cost money, they’re often unavoidable in NEMT. Let’s break down why they happen and some ways to reduce their impact.
A no show occurs when a patient fails to cancel an NEMT ride they no longer need. The driver still gets dispatched and fuel/time is wasted. No shows can stem from:
No show rates of 10-30% are common in NEMT. And some patient groups like dialysis patients have especially high no show rates.
No shows bring significant costs for NEMT providers:
Industry estimates suggest no shows can cost NEMT providers $200,000 to $600,000 per 100,000 trips. That really adds up and hurts efficiency and profitability!
Medicaid reimburses only per completed ride, offering no compensation for no shows. So it directly impacts revenues.
No shows most often occur because of forces outside the NEMT provider’s control. Contributing factors can include:
With an elderly, low-income NEMT user base, some degree of no shows is inevitable. It comes with the territory of providing inclusive NEMT access.
While NEMT providers can’t eliminate no shows, some helpful strategies can optimize operations:
The key is balancing great service with efficient use of resources. With forethought, providers can adapt to minimize disruption and costs when no shows do happen.
New technologies may help refine no show prevention and response. Options like automated reminders and mobile tracking can nudge patients and capture real-time changes.
But human oversight will still be needed to guide fragile populations. No shows are just part of the reality of NEMT. But a bit of preparation can make their impact less of a pain point.