Non-attendance as a factor of waste: challenge for SUStainability in a universal health system

ABSTRACT Non-attendance to specialized healthcare appointments, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures is a global problem in healthcare, leading to the wastage of resources both in the public and private sectors. This study aims to estimate financial wastage of resources linked to non-attendance to scheduled health specialist appointments and procedures in the metropolitan region of the Espírito Santo State (ES), Brazil, between 2014 and 2016. We studied 1.002.719 specialized healthcare procedures, being 666.182 appointments with specialized physicians and other healthcare professionals, and 336.537 specialized diagnostic and other therapeutic procedures. Non-attendance date were retrieved from the administrative procedure scheduling database (SisReg-ES) available in the ES Regulatory Agency and provided by the ES Health Office. Financial values used to estimate wastage were retrieved from the SUS and other standard tariff lists for medical procedures, and used according to the administrative regime of the three types of service providers. Non-attendance average rate for medical and health specialists’ appointments achieved 38.6%, or 257.025 missed appointments, equivalent to an estimated waste of resources of R$3.558.837,88. Non-attendance as for other specialized procedures reached 32.1%, or 108.103 missed procedures, equivalent to R$15.007.624,15. Total wasted resources reached significant values, evincing the ongoing challenge to managers seeking to attain SUStainable universal health care systems.