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Thousands of logged ‘no-show’ appointments impact veteran care, El Paso VA

The El Paso VA serves nearly 27,000 veterans. In 2017, the VA logged between 26,000 to 27,000 appointments that went unfilled due to “no-shows,” according to director.

Nearly 14 percent of those, or 8,845 appointments, were listed under mental health.

“The vast majority of our veterans show up, when they are suppose to,” Amaral said. The director went on to say that the no-show rates average around 10 percent.

“When you miss an appointment, there is another veteran waiting for that appointment that wasn’t able to take that one. I need [veterans] to know that they are impacting fellow veterans.”

In February the El Paso VA was one of 15 facilities nationwide, that was listed as a “high-risk facility” following its one-star rating.

“Health care is a relationship,” El Paso VA director Michael Amaral said. “It’s not one-sided where we are responsible for doing everything. The veteran has responsibility.”

The director told ABC-7 the ‘no show’ appointments can affect that rating. “There are a lot of second- and third-order effects of someone not showing up for their appointment or not notifying us in a timely manner,” Amaral said. The director added that if he could get that 10 percent of no-shows back, it would allow him to get access to other veterans waiting, which in turn could get veterans in for care faster. “If I get (veterans) in sooner, (they) may be more satisfied with the care that (they) got, so it may impact the patient satisfactions scores.” The satisfaction scores are factored into the facility’s ratings.

The director said the VA sends out several reminders for scheduled appointments. Veterans receive two letters in the mail and at least one phone call. Amaral said the facility is rolling out a new texting reminder, which he hopes will drop the number of no-shows.

“It’s all about communication and I really need our veterans to help us, help them, by cancelling appointments when it’s necessary,” Amaral said.

Recent data shows that the El Paso VA has seen almost 16,000 no-shows for fiscal year 2018.

The director told ABC-7 he hopes to drop the no-show appointments to 5 percent.

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