The boom is back, and we can get ten or more new patients calling every day to become patients. It's a blessing, of course, and we never forget to be grateful that we are busy. We know that this practice was built by quality care but in equal measure the kind referrals from patients to their sisters and girlfriends. Thank you so much.
For most of the time we have practiced here, we have had a no-show policy--one we never enforced. It states that a patient who no shows an appointment or cancels without 24 hours notice will be assessed a $25 fee. When it came down to acting on it, though, Dr. Fanous and I were always reluctant--what if people get upset? What if they tell others we are unfair? What if we can no longer pay our bills because we lose so many patients?
Lately, with the boom, we have seen an increase in no-shows. There's a variety of reasons people no-show or cancel at the last minute: some good, some inadequate, and some just downright inconsiderate. But in the end, we have made the decision to begin to enforce the policy because it can be such a drain for us. I spend about an hour a day confirming appointments, and Tela spends at least that arranging and rearranging so it is a manageable and efficient day.
Every medical member of our staff prepares for appointments in advance, reading through charts, checking for mammograms, labs, etc. Furthermore, we have a wait list of patients needing to get in sooner than they are scheduled, and we could accommodate them if only we knew someone wasn't going to come in for their scheduled time. Finally, each no show appointment represents some amount we simply won't get paid.
I hate to even mention this because I recoil at the idea patients think we are some money grubbing profiteers--medicine is Dr. Fanous's vocation, and he has poured his entire life into caring for the women of the Permian Basin--but it IS a business too, one our family counts on to feed the 64 children we have (kidding). That hole caused by a no-show or a last minute cancellation is a zero in income for us for that spot. This morning, I understand we had one no-show already (I am composing this at 10 a.m.) and 5 cancellations. That can hurt! So we are bravely going to do what I suspect most doctors do, and that is expect people to come when they say they will.
I can already imagine people posting on Facebook about sending US a bill because Dr. Fanous made them wait for so long. I like to tell patients that if waiting a while is a deal breaker, we probably aren't the right practice for them. Almost every patient knows it's worth the wait and is willing to stick it out because they know Dr. Fanous would never rush them, but I also advise patients with a schedule concern to call in advance to see if he is running on time (pro tip: he isn't). We never want someone to waste time in the waiting room waiting, so we are happy to tell you if you can save yourself that frustration.