I wrote previously about combining the best of the retail and medical scheduling models to streamline our practices, yet still accommodate emergency appointments. To help solve this problem, our appointment times tend to be longer than other practices and we know those specific patients who need more time. With a simple email or phone call ahead, we are usually able to rearrange our schedule to accommodate patients’ last minute changes. Therefore, consistently showing up late or not at all will result in rescheduling the appointment.
But what about the patient who tries to control your schedule? For example, the one with an appointment who always shows up very early or very late, demanding to be seen immediately. Although some practitioners will see any patient as they dictate, it is very rare that I will. It is disruptive to the entire office and not fair to those who have made and kept their appointment times. It is also not fair to us, because in addition to seeing patients, we must constantly plan how to complete bookkeeping, report writing, marketing, checking hearing aid repairs and orders, computer work, and all those endless details that appear on a daily – even hourly – basis!
Taking this stance, I must practice what I preach and make sure we are on time for our patients. If the audiologist is running late, we will use back up strategies, such as having our students start a hearing aid cleaning first. Or, we ask if the patient is able to wait a little longer or would prefer to reschedule.
We work hard to keep our schedule because we respect our clients’ time, and we appreciate it when they respect ours. Obviously, your office staff must determine if the patient has a true emergency and then work to resolve the problem as soon as possible. However, if the patient is exhibiting a control issue, you do have to take command of the situation and determine how to rein in their behavior.