We hate clinic policies that are not patient friendly, but this year we had to develop a late cancellation and no-show policy. You can read the Stonewire Cancellation Policy here.
We honestly don't know if our policy is the right way to deal with the problem, but we're at a loss for how to handle it.
Over the years, the problem has seemed to get worse and worse, which is ironic as more and more Canadians carry around smartphones with clocks and calendar reminder functions.
The majority of our patients understand why we had to implement this policy and have no problem with it. Most people have actually become accustomed to similar such policies at their dentist office, family doctors and hair stylists. The reality is that no-show policies are inconsequential if you show for the appointment you booked.
While others take offence to the policy and think the clinics are merely out to make more money, which is about as far from the truth.
The truth is that personalized health care, state of the art equipment and extended office hours come at a cost. Every year, missed appointments cost our clinic thousands of dollars and Alberta Health Care millions of dollars in wasted hospital and staff resources. When patients miss their appointments, it extends wait times or delays treatment for other patients. All in all, no-shows should make everyone angry.
Like most policies, ours is not set in Stone, which is ironic given our name. We can be flexible as we know life happens, work happens, illness happens, mistakes happen. We also know that an apologetic tone, an I'm sorry goes a long way with our staff when you go to reschedule. But we need a way to slow the problem and stop the chronic abusers.
We also acknowledge that the problem goes both ways, and your time is just as valuable as ours. Doctors cancelling on patients at the last minute for a conference that was booked months ago is also unacceptable and is why we included a late doctor cancellation policy. Hey, the rules should apply both ways, fair is fair.
We're not perfect, and we admit that we don't know everything. If anyone out there has a better idea on how we can reduce our no-shows, we would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, give us a call, or send us an email.
Some of the suggestions we've received so far and have implemented include:
Text Message Reminders 1-2 hours before the appointment
Email Reminders the night before
Confirmations Emails at the Time of Booking