Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Deputy Premier; Minister for Health; Mental Health

    No-shows at outpatient appointments strike a costly blow to public health

    13/02/2019 12:00 PM
    • More than 160,000 outpatient appointments missed in a year
    • More than $26 million lost in productivity; and activity-based funding from the Commonwealth
    • New app being developed to help patients manage appointments 

    In the past 12 months, more than 160,000 outpatient appointments have been missed at public hospitals and clinics across Western Australia, leading to missed opportunities and lost funding in the health system.


    This figure represents more than eight per cent of total outpatient appointments across the WA public health system and means these specialist appointments were wasted.


    The proportion of missed appointments varies by specialty and hospital location. Perth Children's Hospital estimated that the no-show rate for the ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialty was 16.5 per cent. 


    Across the public health system, missed outpatient appointments are estimated to result in $8.2 million in inefficiencies. Furthermore, it also means that an estimated $18 million of Commonwealth Government activity-based funding that would have been provided to the Department of Health has not been received.  


    While reasons for missed appointments vary, common explanations include:

    • Having been seen through a GP or private health insurance funded specialist;
    • Clinical need has changed;
    • Forgetfulness; and
    • Death - where families have not cancelled outpatient appointments. 

    About 1.8 million specialist outpatient appointments are delivered by WA Health every year. To help patients manage their appointments and improve their experience, an Outpatient Reform Program has commenced.


    An Outpatient Appointment Mobile Application (app) is being developed as part of this program. The app will be designed to help patients and families advise if they cannot attend appointments or request the appointment be rescheduled. This app will be piloted from July to October 2019.


    Improvements to assist GP referral, along with enhancements to data quality and reporting and better ICT processes will also be made.


    Patients who no longer need outpatient appointments should contact the outpatient clinic or the call centre, Outpatient Direct on 1300 855 275.


    Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:


    "While more than 1.8 million outpatient appointments were delivered across our hospitals in 12 months, it is concerning that a further 160,000 appointments were missed and ultimately wasted. This results in $26 million in lost productivity and a high personal cost to other patients in need.


    "The Department of Health is working hard to improve its systems and use digital platforms to remind patients of their appointments. For their part, I would ask all patients, families and carers to reschedule or cancel outpatient appointments they cannot attend or do not need; this will ensure these appointments are made available for those who need them most.


    "The McGowan Government is committed to providing quality care to our sick and injured community members, if we all do our bit to cut the number of missed outpatient appointments it will help those who need it most to receive treatment in a timely fashion."


    Minister's office - 6552 6500