The real reason my doctor is always running late.

Why do you have a 24 hour cancellation policy? Don’t you realize things happen that things come up unexpectedly?


About a year ago I was out to dinner with a very good friend of mine and he had a cleaning appointment the following morning at my office.  While at dinner he nonchalantly said, “Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I can’t make my cleaning appointment tomorrow, I have a meeting.”  It was either my blank stare of disbelief or the fact that I was slowly reaching for my steak knife that caused him to realize this perhaps was a bigger deal than he had anticipated.  After explaining the situation he understood why cancelling within 24 hours caused such a reaction.  This may be a little long-winded and I may get emotional so please bear with me.

From the beginning I always wanted to own a dental practice where I would enjoy being a patient myself and, for that reason, we do a number of things to improve the patient experience as best as we can. This includes preparing for your dental appointment and being able to seat you either before or as close to your appointment time as possible.  First of all, the reason you always have to wait at the doctor’s office and many other dental offices is because, in most cases, other offices “double-book” your appointment.  This means dilbertthat if you have an appointment at 9am with the doctor or hygienist, so does someone else, similar to overselling a plane.  They do this because if, for instance, someone does not show up the doctor or hygienist will still have a patient to treat instead of idly sitting there being paid (the hygienist) or not getting paid (the dentist).  However, if both patients show up, invariably one will have to wait, a situation in which we are all too familiar with.  I feel it is extremely unfair to punish the person who was on time for their appointment by making them wait because the system is set up to cater to those who frequently cancel.  To combat the need to double book appointments I choose to place an emphasis on preventing 24 hour cancellations by requesting a $50 fee for two missed or short notice cancellations.  I would rather reduce cancellations by implementing this fee as opposed to punishing people that show up for their appointments by making them wait.

We also prepare for your appointment by verifying your insurance in the days before your visitdr-appt-running-late-waiting-room, which at times can take numerous phone calls to even get a representative on the phone to discuss your benefits.  We do this to make sure all parties are aware of any out of pocket expense that may be necessary for your desired treatment.  Additionally, there are a number of appointment times that are in high demand and when you schedule during one of those times and either no show or cancel with short notice, it does not give us the opportunity to call one of the other patients that would like to make it in during that specific time.

After explaining this to my friend, he realized the meeting he scheduled to update his current wireless phone plan could easily be done in his car on his drive to the appointment from his office and that perhaps cancelling the appointment wasn’t as inconsequential as it seemed.  Apparently my friend was still left a little unsettled and will only go to dinner with me if the only tableware option is chopsticks.

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