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What to Do When You or the Patient is Late?

Posted on November 17, 2015 by Sandy Pardue

Surveys show the average wait for a doctor’s appointment is 30 minutes, which indicates most offices are running inefficiently or are out of control in terms of being on time. There are several reasons why this can happen. Occasionally a real emergency occurs and disrupts the schedule, but this isn’t usually the case.

All late patients are to be contacted by the Receptionist within the first few minutes after their due time (no more than 5 minutes). If the Scheduler is responsible for making late calls the Receptionist must inform the Scheduler when the patient is late.

This will do several things for us:

  1. Most often, if the patient is called right away, the patient can still be seen for their appointment. They may be a little late, but it’s better to have a patient who is a little late than not there at all–especially if it is a longer or more productive appointment.
  2. By calling right away and learning the patient is not coming allows us to perform additional needed procedures on patients currently in the office receiving treatment or to move a hygiene patient needing treatment into a treatment room.
  3. It also allows us more control and keeps the staff from wondering whether the person is just late or is not coming at all.
  4. We find patients will reschedule much easier if they are contacted immediately after not showing up for an appointment.


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