Primary Care Appointment Systems: Causes and Implications of Timely Arrivals

Hedayat Alibeiki, Chetan Kumar, Jim Ballard, Deanna R. Willis, Scott Given, Jennifer Taylor


The primary goal of this study was to identify potential factors that might contribute to patient punctuality issues, while also assessing the satisfaction of a proposed intervention. In addition, we aimed to learn more about the psychosocial and behavioral implications that patients face with regards to arriving on time for their primary care visits. A mixed-method research study was used to identify and quantify potential factors that might contribute to patient punctuality issues, while also assessing the satisfaction of a proposed intervention. In addition to possible factors that contribute to punctuality, we aimed to learn more about how patients are affected when they arrive late for appointments. Through qualitative assessment, we explored the psychosocial and behavioral implications that patients face with regards to arriving on time for their primary care appointments. A total of 524 individuals out of 1050 patients (50%) responded to the paper-based survey. Of the 524 adult respondents, we excluded 103 (19.7%) participants due to the missing data on either of their historical behavior patterns, future intentions for arrival, or their definition of appointment time. We analyzed the data for the remaining 421 eligible survey participants. In addition, seven of the eight patient interviews were transcribed and analyzed in order to identify themes using the patient’s own words to better understand the psychosocial and behavioral implications patients face on arriving to their appointment on time. Three primary themes emerge in the interviews related to the perception of arriving late to appointments at the FMC. The findings of this study indicate that regardless of patients’ interpretation of appointment time, they typically arrive 10-15 minutes before the appointment time. In addition, there is a significant connection between patients’ perceptions of historically arriving late to appointments and the intent to arrive very early to their future appointments. Combined with the qualitative results, this study suggests that most patients are motivated to be on time, in some cases seeing the idea of lateness as a contradiction of their own self-identity. The behavioral causes and implications of the findings are explained using the concept of Fear Appeals and the Protection Motivation Theory (PMT).


Healthcare Analytics; Primary Care; Clinical Appointment Systems; Patient Attendance; Timeliness; No-shows; Cancellations; Missed appointments

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