August 01, 2011,
A.N. asks from Plain City, OH on July 31, 2011
Being on Time for Doctor appointments.....what Do You Think Should Be Done?
Just wondering if I can get another point of view because a recent post got me thinking.....
Say you're a healthcare provider, and you have appointment intervals from 10 min. to 30 min. dependent on what the appt. was made for. What would you do about your patients that show up 15-20 after their scheduled appt. times? What would you say to the patient that does the "While I'm here, I thought I'd also ask you about....." for which time has not been alloted? What would you say to the people that come in on the wrong day (may have even taken off work)? What about the patients that don't show up for appointments, or cancel without 24 hours notice.....should they be charged a fee for the time that had been set aside for them (with the exception of a true emergency of course)?
Think about these things, and let me know what solutions you have......think about how these things affect the patients that are on time for their appointments. I want to hear what kind of rules you would apply and how strict you would be. Time to step into someone else's shoes for a moment, ladies!
So What Happened?™
I guess this really isn't a "What happened?", but thanks for the input. It is always interesting to get different views/opinions.
For me, when I go to the doctor, I am always early or at least on time. Maybe once or twice have I ever been running late and have called BEFORE my appt. time to let them know I was running behind and to see if I could still be seen. I'm ok with getting charged if I miss an appointment......but I avoid that, so it's irrelevant. :)
I feel it is my responsibility to know what I am being seen for. And, if I forgot to tell the scheduler something, I will call back to give them the info. I think schedulers can do only as good as the information they are given. I try to remember that healthcare providers are in the "business" of service for our healthcare needs. I don't see someone scheduling any excess time for appointments when it is for the purpose of "what ifs". I don't think that would be very profitable to be sitting around, not seeing patients continually.
I have waited 1-2 hours before to be seen by a doctor. I know it is my choice to reschedule if I don't want to wait it out. However, I like the doctors that I see and know that I'll get the time that I need when the time comes. I am quite amazed at the number of those that have no problem showing up late for appointments. Get a few of you in a row, and that could be why I'm waiting longer to be seen sometimes. I bet doctors would love to be able to set a timer for appointments, how they show appointments on TV for psychiatrists. I know I wouldn't like to be rushed out the door without finishing my questions.......and, I know that if I have extra questions, so do other people. So, if I'm waiting, I just look at it as my doctor being thorough with the needs of their patients. I've never felt like my doctors don't respect me or my time, especially if they apologize for running late when they come into the room.
Thanks again for putting your two cents in!
K.*. answers from Los Angeles on July 31, 2011
When I'm late it's usually child related...not by choice! I think there should be a little flexibility. If a doctor refused to see me because I was a little late and/or tried charging me, I would SO be switching doctors! I would also be understanding if they were running late...it's a two-way street baby :)
If someone flakes, I would give them a warning the first time and charge if there was a second time!
For someone REALLY late with no call, I would make them wait a bit so they don't take it for granted.
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E.W. answers from Cleveland on August 01, 2011
There are definitely people out there that do not care as long as their needs are met and that doctors are people too with families. I am paranoid about being on time. I call and let them know I am running late and should I reschedule. They will let me know based on what their schedule looks like for the day. There some things we have no control over so I call even on the freeway if see something that could delay me. One of doctors realized how I was about being late one time and told me 15 minutes was their window but I don't want to get lazy and start using that as my window. I want to be thoughtful to the doctor cause I really appreciate their time.
H.S. answers from Cincinnati on July 31, 2011
Well, 15-20 minutes late for a 15 minute appointment, I would not be seeing you. I would have my staff ask you to reschedule. Simply put. There is nothing worse than people who are inconsiderate of other peoples time. I don't care who you are, what your kid did this morning that caused your delay, what the traffic was like, or what your meeting at work was about. It's rude!
No shows or cancellations 1 hr before, should be charged a fee!
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C.O. answers from Washington DC on July 31, 2011
if my patient shows up late - i let them know i will fit them in - they will NOT be next on my list - there were people here on time...they will get seen - but ONLY when the people who have shown up on time are taken care of.
lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part...
they are welcome to reschedule and they will be charged a fee for today's no-show - yes, they showed, but seriously - if they weren't in a car accident - what's the excuse? You made appointment so if you just blew it off or thought you had more time - how is that MY fault or the fault of my other patients who got there on time?
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K.H. answers from Detroit on July 31, 2011
I've always thought that if they get to charge me for missing an appointment, I should be able to charge them for making me wait an hour and a half. I understand that sh!t happens sometimes, but there are so many that constantly overbook and then I feel rushed because they're behind schedule. That said, I don't see realistically how a dr can tell a patient that their time is up and they need to make another appt if they have other issues.
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K.P. answers from Seattle on July 31, 2011
I think that they should allot the appointments and extra 10-20 minutes over what they need just so that they have a little extra time if they do go over, or if even after the patients leave they have time to file their paper work and chart or do whatever they need to do before the next patient appointment. So in theory they would be using their own time to get things done, and so then it also doesnt run into the next patients time, making them wait in the waiting room to be called back, thinking what is taking them so long?
It wouldnt happen much anymore because time management is used and everyone is on time.
Also, to the people who dont show up for their appointment or if they are late for their appointment. I think that if you are over 15 minutes late then they should lose their appointment, and it should be given to anyone who is a walk in, or if the next patient is there then they will go in early. It should be stated so that everyone knows this will happen if they are late and didnt call to let the doctor's office know.
They shouldnt have to be waiting on us if we are running late, they are busy too being doctors and all, and dont have time to wait around.
But it is also the same for us. We dont want to be waiting on the doctor to see us because they are running late too. We are busy people as well, and have things to do.
Its all about courtesy, respect and making sure you are on time. Things would go so much smoother if everyone was punctual!
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R.K. answers from Boston on July 31, 2011
Our pediatrician will not see you if you are more than 10 minutes late, they bill you for appointments that are no call no show (they take the time to call you 24 hrs before hand) they hardly ever run late because they stick to their schedule. They now carry iPads with them that gives them their full schedule for that day so when he checks in that he is now seeing Joe also knows that in 15 minutes he is scheduled to see Jane. I find the pediatricians are even more punctual in their appt times since they have implemented this newer technology all the charts are electronic now.
Edited: they also give us a copy of office policies at the beginning of every year and us patients have to sign that we agree to them
Kjinhb when you are late for an appointment it's not just the dr that has to wait. If you are 10 minutes late and I am on time I shouldn't have to wait because you can't get out the door on time. Our pediatrician is 45 minutes away and in the 10 years I've been a mom I have yet to be late. I am always at a minimum 10 minutes early because I make sure I give us more than hour to get there for those "just incase" you need to realize that maybe the dr would run on time if their patients did. I'm so happy our pedi enforces their late policy.
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S.F. answers from Reno on July 31, 2011
If I were a doctor, I'm not sure I would say "I'm sorry, I don't have time to discuss this; please reschedule." I remember how many questions came to mind AFTER I made the appointment. But, I had a very unique pedi when my boys were babies. She told all her patients that she regularly ran 30-60 minutes late but when it was our turn, we'd have her full and undivided attention for as long as we needed it. We were encouraged to call ahead to see how behind she was running. Because of this, being 15 minutes late was rarely an issue.
And this doc meant what she said. I had 30 minute appointments go as long as 90 as we worked through all issues to everyone's satisfaction...and she NEVER made you feel rushed. On many occasions, she gave us extra special care, whether it was middle of the night phone calls, very late appointments or being seen immediately because *I* was a complete basket case over something. Because she was so great and free with her time, I never, ever minded waiting and I never met a family of hers that did. We all knew that the price for her superlative care was delays. We adapted because she was worth it.
In the end, a medical practice treats human beings. If we're at the doctor it's because we need attention and I doubt anyone would feel they got good attention if their "special circumstance" was not treated with compassion. It's been my personal experience that the more patient I am with tardiness, as a patient, the better service I get when I truly have an emergency. For example, for my annual "woman" exam, I try to be the first patient of the day (9am) and I tend to show up on time or early. I know my doc is also a surgeon who does her surgeries at 7am. Sometimes surgeries run long. I remember one time she was two hours late and I fell asleep on the exam table waiting for her. Now, for all the appointments behind me, they call and reschedule, but I always elect to wait. I've already taken the day off, so no big deal (I'm lucky to be able to do this). Two weeks ago, I had a horrible bladder infection and called, in tears, with the pain. She saw me within two hours of my initial phone call and I had drugs within the next hour. What goes around, comes around. Because I'm not a complainer, I get the extra special care I need, when I need it.
But, that's just me. I understand the "my time is valuable" argument and respect that. But, for me, I try to remember that no one's perfect, emergencies happen and sometimes life just gets in the way or doesn't go our way. As I always tell my children, waiting patiently "in line" (whether it's the doctor, the grocery store or anywhere) is what adults have to do to earn their Christmas presents! <wink> I have faith (and experience has shown) that if I'm patient as a patient, things do work out in the end.
Good question! I hope you find the answers you seek!
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L.L. answers from Rochester on July 31, 2011
At our clinic, if patients show up more than 15 minutes late, they flat out won't take you. If you show up late, but less than 15, they will make you wait until they are CAUGHT UP with all their other future appointment, so you can wait two hours instead of the five minutes you would have if you'd shown up on time. I agree with this policy. I am always early for appointments, and is it just me, or does anyone else agree that there is NO EXCUSE besides a serious reason why you ought to be late? I mean, if a child starts puking on the way out the door or you're in a car accident, whatever...but really, there isn't a good excuse for not getting out the door on time. Plan ahead.
However, I (and probably most mothers) appreciate being taken care of when I'm there. If I want to ask five questions instead of one, I expect that I ought to be able to (it's my money) and our pediatrician and family care doctor are both wonderful about it.
As a matter of fact, our ped has, on a few occasions, agreed to see both of my children when I only had an appointment for one because the other was sick and really needed to be seen that day. Now, this wasn't a special privilege I asked for, but an offer given by the doctor because she likes to see her own patients. (It's a large clinic, so I especially appreciate this.)
They also have a policy that if you "no show" three times, they won't see you except in the ER. I also agree with this. And by no show, that's no show with no call except later on, to reschedule...I'm sure they're understanding about emergencies. I actually know someone who has to take her three children 40 miles away to another town to the doctor, because she no showed too many times. Ouch.
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M.M. answers from Washington DC on July 31, 2011
The military requires you to be 15 minutes early, so I was always early.
And I have come on-time and not been seen. THe rule is..... and on base you don't break rules, any of them.
My hubby has since retired.
Now if I am 15 minutes late they can bill me $25, civilian doctor.
Or if I don;t show up I will be billed, same civilian Dr.
My hubby's new Dr is a walk in only clinic. THey see you on a first come first serve basis. He was in and out in 35 minutes last Friday.
Dr's should always ask if there is anything else. People should always feel they can bring up another issue with a Dr. Sometimes you don't want ot discuss all your issues with every freaking person who walks into the room.
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