Johns Hopkins researchers develop tool to predict patient no-shows

Researchers from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University's Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare have created an algorithm to reduce patient no-shows and increase appointment availability.

"The new approach developed with our partners at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians has allowed the clinic to add over 70 pediatric appointments to their schedule per week, improving outpatient access for more children while also reducing the no-show rate 16 percent for patients who are highly likely to miss scheduled appointments," said Scott Levin, PhD, associate professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The research team analyzed operations at two Johns Hopkins clinics. On average, 20 percent of patients did not show up for their scheduled appointments.

To address this issue, the researchers created a machine-learning algorithm that predicts the likelihood a patient will show up for an appointment and considers demographics, economic status and medical history. The algorithm calculates a no-show score for each patient. Providers can use these scores to look at their weekly schedule and find which patients are at high risk for not showing up for their appointments.

The model, in use at two clinics since September 2017, found patients who visit emergency departments more often are more likely to not show up for scheduled appointments. Patients who use online patient portals to schedule their own appointments are more likely to keep appointments.

Individual departments are best equipped to use information the model gives to identify the best way to use their appointment slots, the researchers said. Some departments increased outreach strategies, such as having staff make more reminder calls to patients with a high risk of not showing up, while other departments give these high-risk appointment slots to patients who urgently need care.

The next step is to integrate the model into Johns Hopkins Medicine's electronic patient care records system before launching it in the Johns Hopkins Health System and hospitals nationwide, the researchers said.

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