8 surprising thoughts about patient wait times

8 surprising thoughts about patient wait times

Every one of us feels a high level of anxiety when we are made to wait.  In grocery stores, we jockey back and forth to the line we perceive is moving the fastest and easily get frustrated when we choose the “wrong” line.  When driving, we will swerve across multiple lanes of traffic to avoid a line at a toll booth or to position ourselves in the lane that we think will get us to our destination the fastest.  Even in elevators, we hate waiting so much that we push the “door close” button so often that those buttons typically have a different shine than all other buttons on the elevator panel because of the disparate use of that one button.

Knowing that we all hate to wait for just about anything, I haven’t quite figured out yet why so many doctors are okay with making their patients wait.  Patients are customers, and most businesses try to focus on doing what they can to keep their customers happy, yet waiting is one of the top reasons why customers are annoyed or frustrated by an experience they have with a business.  In an advertisement for Federal Express, the voiceover states that “waiting is frustrating, demoralizing, agonizing, aggravating, annoying, time consuming and incredibly expensive.”  Waiting generally results in negative perceptions of businesses by customers.  So, why do doctors think it is okay to make their patients wait?

Sometimes, it is unavoidable in a medical practice that patients will have to wait; unexpected things come up that may not always be able to be controlled.  It is certainly in a practice’s best interests to look into how wait times can be avoided, or at least diminished, to improve the patient experience.  But even if waiting cannot be completely avoided, there are ways to handle the waiting experience of patients.  Understanding influences on people’s perceptions of waiting can provide better insight into what can be done to make waiting a less negative experience.

There has been a good deal of research done on the psychology of waiting.  In my quest to better understand this process, I happened to read a paper by David Maister, titled “The Psychology of Waiting Lines.”   Below, I would like to share a number of insights regarding waiting that were highlighted by David Maister in order to help you better understand how your patients feel when they are kept waiting for an appointment.

1. Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time.  You know the expression “a watched pot never boils”?  When you are sitting and doing nothing while waiting, it seems like the time takes forever to pass.  Maister quotes William James, a noted philosopher, in his paper, highlighting his observance that “boredom results from being attentive to the passage of time itself.”

Many businesses understand this concept and some try to do things to change the perception of the passage of time.  For example, theme parks such as Disney keep guests entertained while waiting in lines by providing entertainment through music, TV or live performances.  Most medical practices understand this concept to a point and provide patients with loads of paperwork (most that have been copied over and over) to work on while waiting so that patients are occupied for at least a portion of the wait time.

If you need to keep patients waiting for awhile, make it more fun and entertaining for them so that they are occupied while waiting and so that time seems to pass more quickly.  For example, keep magazines fresh and make sure topics are in line with those your patients might find interesting.  Provide iPad minis (tether them to furniture so they don’t “disappear”) to give patients something to do while they wait.  Although I am personally not a big fan of having televisions running with daytime talk shows, I do observe that they work to keep patients entertained.

2. People want to get started. Patients want to feel like they are getting closer to seeing the doctor, so it is in your practice’s best interest to have patients feeling like they are getting started on time, or as close to on time as possible.  Have an assistant start the appointment right at the scheduled time by taking patients back to the room where they will be seen (and thus, leaving the waiting room).

Even if taking the patient back to the room is not an option, consider some type of “triage” system, whereby all patients are first met by a nurse who can enter the patients’ name, information and symptoms into the computer and then can decide whether the patient can be treated by a registered nurse practitioner or whether they should wait to see the doctor.  Even if this step has no impact on the time it takes for a patient to see a medical service provider, surveys have shown that patients were pleased with “reduced waiting times” because their appointments seemed to start on time, since they had at least been entered into the system and the “process” of the appointment had begun.

This is another good reason to give patients forms to fill out, but I challenge you to take it to the next level past just filling patients’ time with forms by putting in place a process that makes them feel like their appointment is getting started, even if they still have to wait to see the doctor. Even if there’s no option about who to see, having a nurse start the process (by taking blood pressure, height and weight, symptoms, etc.), makes the patient feel like the appointment has begun on time.

3. Anxiety makes waits seem longer. When people are anxious, the process of waiting appears longer than it otherwise might.  Just think about how it feels when you’re line hopping at the grocery store and you are anxious about whether you really choose the best checkout line.  Standing there waiting for your turn to check out seems like it takes forever and you’re sure it would’ve been faster somewhere else.  Or, maybe you’re at the airport and you have to wait in line to go through security.  You’re anxious about the process of whether you’ll be pulled aside for additional screening once you’ve sent your wallet, keys and laptop through the x-ray machine, or whether you’ll get to your gate on time, and that makes the wait seem to be interminable.

Chances are that your patients are already anxious while sitting in your waiting room.  Most reasons for heading to a doctor’s office leave people with some level of anxiety.  So, since you know that your patients are anxious and you now know that anxiety makes waits seem longer, it’s important for you to remove as many of the other seven factors noted here that add to wait anxiety as you can in order to improve your patients’ experience.

4. Uncertain waits are longer than known or finite waits. It’s been shown that when a person knows how long they can expect to wait, they are less anxious and the wait time seems to pass more quickly and less unpleasantly.  Think about how you feel again at the airport.  If you arrive an hour before your flight and get to the gate 30 minutes before departure, you are fine with the wait time because you know what to expect and can pass the time accordingly, doing whatever you want or need to do before the flight leaves.  But, if you are sitting at the gate for just a few minutes past the scheduled departure time and you have not been told when the plane will board, you immediately get very anxious and the minutes tick by like hours while you sit at the edge of your seat growing more and more anxious.

The same holds true for theme parks.  If you see a sign that is posted about how long the wait time will be, the time seems to go by much faster and with less stress than when you’re standing in a line that appears to not be moving very fast and you have no idea how long you can expect to be standing there.

So, it is important that your staff provide specific information related to how long patients’ waits will be.  If your staff just says “the doctor will see you soon”, the patient may assume your staff is lying or bluffing and will automatically be in a more anxious state.  That’s because when we don’t know how long a wait is, we become more agitated and less patient.  Time moves by at a snail’s pace.

But, if we know the exact amount of time that we will have to wait, we can settle into a new reality.  It frees us from the anxiety of the unknown and allows us to control what we do with the time we know we have to wait.  We can read a magazine, make a phone call, check some emails or even step away for a cup of coffee, rather than watching the constant tick of the clock, wondering when our wait will end.

5. Unexplained waits are longer than explained waits. The second we are told why we are waiting for something, we usually relax a bit.  For example, if we are sitting at an airplane gate and the flight is late but there is no agent at the gate or we are provided with no reason for the delay, we get frustrated and anxious and the wait time seems to take forever because we’re not really sure why we have been made to wait.  But, if the airline agents are there and they explain the reason for the late departure, we come to a level of understanding and our frustration level is somewhat reduced.

I often see reception staff in doctors’ offices managing patients’ inquiries about delayed appointments by using “white lies”.  The front desk staff may say things like “the doctor is at the hospital” or “the doctor got called into an emergency”, but without a valid explanation about why the doctor is delayed and how long the patient can expect to wait due to a specific situation, patients get annoyed (and rightfully so).  Sometimes, the patient doesn’t believe the explanation (or it’s an untrue explanation), but even if the reason for the delay is valid, a patient that doesn’t receive a fair explanation of the situation will feel frustrated, anxious and will perceive that the wait is taking forever.

6. Unfair waits are longer than equitable waits. When we are waiting for something to occur, we are very sensitive to what we deem is unfair or unbalanced.  Think about a time when you were sitting at a restaurant waiting for your order to be taken or food to be served, only to see a party you know walked in after you enjoying their food before you.  Even if you had no issue with waiting up until that point, you suddenly feel like you’ve been waiting too long because it is unfair that they were served so quickly and you are still waiting for your food, so you immediately get agitated and start looking for your waiter to get some answers about when you can expect your food.

Similarly, if you are sitting in a waiting room at a doctor’s office and someone else that walks in after you is taken back before you, you view this as being unfair and it makes you more agitated.  Chances are you’ll head to the front desk to immediately make sure that they didn’t “forget about you” or to find out why you weren’t taken first.  That’s why it is so important to make it very clear to patients why their wait may be different from another person’s wait.  For example, if there are multiple practitioners in the office, your patients deserve an explanation that some patients may experience different wait times dependent on each individual practitioner’s schedule.

A triage nurse or the person who greets patients at the front desk can manage any expectations of fairness by providing information about variations in wait times with a valid explanation.

7. The more valuable the service, the longer the customer will wait. This may be the one point regarding waiting that leans in a physician’s favor.  I have had to wait several hours to see a particular specialist after it taking me months to “get in” to see the doctor in the first place.  So, even though the wait was extremely long, I wasn’t about to give up my appointment and walk out, only to have to possibly wait several more months to get back in to see this specialist.

However, although this point might provide a reason for your patients to grin and bear it while they wait for you, it still is not good for business in general to make your patients wait.  So, this may buy you some time, but don’t rely on it as a reason to validate your constantly backed up schedule.

8. Solo waits feel longer than group waits. When you’re waiting in a restaurant, an airport or an amusement park, there’s no doubt that time seems to pass much more quickly when you are with a group of people.  You’re talking, laughing and having a good time and, unless the wait is egregiously long, you tend to hardly notice.  When you’re alone, wait times generally feel much longer because you are more focused on the passage of time and are not as distracted from the actual act of waiting.

Now, I’m not advocating that you have your patients show up with a big group of friends so they have people with them to make the wait go by faster, but in the absence of companions, I suggest again that you keep your patients distracted and entertained with things like iPad minis, up to date magazines, or a TV tuned to a popular program.

I challenge the physicians that I consult with to minimize wait times.  It is simply the one best thing that you can do to improve the perception of your practice.  If your patients come in and are seen on-time they will certainly rave about you to their friends.  Your competitor most likely isn’t seeing patient’s on-time; instead of lowering your practice to what has become standard, long waits, set your practice apart by seeing your patients as scheduled.  It is the easiest way to differentiate your practice.

Adam Banks is CEO, NY SportsMed, and consults on practice development, management and marketing. He can be reached on Twitter @adamabanks.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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  • trinu

    “Although I am personally not a big fan of having televisions running
    with daytime talk shows, I do observe that they work to keep patients
    entertained.”
    ——————————————–

    This is just my experience, but I find talk shows too shallow to be entertaining, but distracting enough to keep me from passing the time by reading. Also, there’s more than just the wait that upsets us; it’s being told to arrive a half hour early, when the physician is an hour late.

  • http://twitter.com/PedInsider Roy Benaroch MD

    The best way– maybe the only way– to eliminate waiting times would be to become very strict about timing. Make all appointments for an exact amount of time, and when that time is up, the patient has to leave, and the doctor has to move on. If the patient arrives late, the timer starts ticking anyway. If the patient has complex or multiple problems that take longer than expected, too bad. If the patient needs the doctor to review records, or call another doctor, or complete a form… you get the picture. Time is up when the time is up. Goodbye, I hope you’re done, if not, come back another time.

    Does anyone think this is a good idea? Is that what patients want?

    • http://www.facebook.com/adamabanks Adam Banks

      I think that there are a lot of ways to manage schedules to include an allocation for the time this “stuff” takes. I have often consulted practices where waiting for the doctor for over an hour becomes normal. If patients wait every day for an hour, then we need to make simple adjustments to the staff and the schedule to accommodate this flow, if the doctor is an hour late every day, make that the schedule so that the doctor can be on time. Sometimes it works to schedule new patients on the hour and follow ups on the half hour, or to schedule new patients in the AM.

  • ButDoctorIHatePink

    As a cancer patient, I spend quite a bit of time in doctors offices. I now am a “patient” patient since I have gone in weekly for 3 years. I know the rhythms of the place, almost as well as the staff does. I know what goes on in the chemo area to cause slow-downs, and I know that my doctor will spend as much time as I need with me when I get to him. However, it is a slow office, people wait, and I’ve seen new patients get frustrated and leave angrily, more than once.

    The office staff could help by keeping patients informed. “you will be next” is a soothing thing to hear. “We are short staffed today so things are moving slower than normal” is okay too, at least we know. And why not “the wait will be an hour, the doctor had an emergency, would you like to reschedule?” I bet most will say no since they are already there, and now they’ve been given a choice. That’s what people want – choice and acknowledgment. If you know it’s going to be more than an hour, than you can settle in.

    My office doesn’t take people in order of sign-in, so that confuses newbies, they don’t understand that some of us are going straight back to chemo and others are going for labs and others to see the doctor, so they see it as unfairness in timing. “I signed in long before she did but they are calling her name.” That could easily be rectified with information, even a simple sign explaining the procedure.

    My oncologist doesn’t have magazines other than “Cure” or anything for people to do but they do have a bookshelf with donated books. Nice but that screams “You are going to be here for hours” which, in reality, most cancer patients will be, but a newbie isn’t going to start a book. I love the idea of ipad minis but most people have their own tech – how about getting wifi in the office? My oncology office doesn’t have a way for us to get online, so we are all pecking away at our phones while we wait.. For some reason, I can set up a wifi hotspot myself, but their tech department can’t figure it out because of privacy. Um, just a separate one should do it.

    We have physical needs too. A container of ice water, some teas and I’ve even seen cookies put out at some places.

    The one thing that will make me search for a new doctor is a TV in the waiting room. In today’s world, with entertainment in my pocket, I don’t want or need to see CNN or The View or some other show that annoys me and will make me walk out if they won’t turn it off. That is a danger-zone and I don’t recommend it. It is more irritating than relaxing and then nobody is happy with the choice of entertainment. All TVs in waiting rooms should be banned.

    The main thing we feel when sitting and waiting is that we don’t know what is happening and we are out of control. Combine that with fear of what may be going on with us physically, and there is going to be a lack of patience. Give us a little knowledge about where we are in the scheme of things and that will help, and give us something to sip on and do while waiting. That means a front desk clerk who pays attention and doesn’t keep that glass window closed, and it means spending a bit on magazines/wifi/snacks if you run the kind of office that is slower.

    FYI: I went and saw a specialist at UCSF Cancer Center. That ship runs like clockwork. I never was late getting in, they had tea, coffee, cookies in the waiting room, everybody was universally friendly, I never felt I was being rushed when I saw the doctor, and felt I got all my questions answered. People come from all over the country to go there and not a soul waited in any of my visits. Appointment times were kept. Not sure how they did it, but I’ve been there a few times and it’s always been exactly the same.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    One could go into a long discussion of the economics of medicine, the doctor shortage, excessive demand of those who have small copays, etc. But what would be the point really?

    How about ponying up 50 bucks or more a month to join a concierge practice? That would decrease wait time. Otherwise you git what you git even if you throw a fit.

    • Guest

      “you git what you git even if you throw a fit.”

      You sound like MY doctor. Sorry, my FORMER doctor.

  • Matthew Mintz

    “Patients are customers, and most businesses try to focus on doing what they can to keep their customers happy.”

    Not exactly true, and herein lies the problem. The patient is not actually paying the doctor, it’s the insurance company. And the insurance company is paying a negotiated rate. The real customer is usually the employer who is footing most of the insurance bill and cares more about coverage than employee satisfaction. Patients get particularly frustrated because premiums are so high. However, they don’t realize that the bulk of their premiums are not going to doctor office visits, but rather the expensive care of others such as cancer care and end of life care.
    Primary care physicians have seen their overhead skyrocket while payments from insurance companies have stayed flat or go down. The only way to stay afloat is to increase patient volume which translates into decreased access and longer wait times.
    Patients who value their time and are frustrated with long wait times and lack of access (3 months for a physical for example) should seriously consider going outside the system and go to a retainer (concierge), cash only or direct primary care practice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/adamabanks Adam Banks

      Certainly there is the third party payor, however its the patient that makes the decision who to see (for the most part there is freedom in this decision).
      I simply put forth that a wait time is ok. There is a huge difference in staff leaving a patient in a cloud of anxiety about how long the wait will be; or relieving this anxiety by saying “the wait will be about an hour, would you like to grab a cup of coffee and come back?”. There is a big difference to the patient.

      • Matthew Mintz

        But the 3rd party payor is the one that determines the income for the practice. Most primary care practices are struggling to survive because reimbursements from insurance companies are too low. While volume (and the wait times that come with them) is the way most practices respond, they also respond by hiring fewer staff. In other words, a typical practice is so understaffed that asking them to keep waiting patients updated on their wait time is an unrealistic request (and will likely lead to further wait times).
        You are obviously business savy and run an excellent practice; however, the economics of an NYC physical therapy practice (that only accepts certain insurances) does not apply to the an insurance based primary care practice, and therefore some of the management strategies don’t apply as well. All your suggestions might seem applicable to a department of motor vehicles, for example, but the expectation that these principles would actuall work would silly, because the resources are simply not there. Now you might argue that there is only one department of motor vehicles whereas patients have a choice of primary care providers. However, that is also not correct, because all insurance based providers are under the same financial pressures. In other words, the patient really doesn’t have much of a decision to make. The major exception to this is providers outside of the insurance based system, i.e. concierge/retain, no insurance/cash only, direct primary care, etc. In these systems, more or less, the patient is truly the customer and therefore should not have to be kept waiting. The bottom line is that in our current insurance based system, you can apply all the management and psychologic strategies you want, but patients are still going to be kept waiting without a nice person to tell them to go get a cup of coffee. If patients value their time/health and have the resources to do so, they should consider going outside the system.

        • Guest

          So “beggars can’t be choosers”, is that what you’re saying? “Shut up and wait, my time and maximizing my profits is more important that you getting back to work on time, unless of course you pay me cash in hand”?

          Gosh, maybe you should have two waiting rooms, one for the conventionally-insured hoi polloi, and one for those willing to slip you a little baksheesh so they can jump the queue?

          Look, with the screwed up insurance situation in America, a lot of us can not and do not choose our insurance, our employers do. If I could get my boss to give me cash in hand equal to what he spends on my insurance policy, I would grab it in a second (it IS considered part of my wage package after all) and set up an HSA/catastrophic type thing, and then I COULD pay you cash in hand in order to be treated like a human being whose time is just as important as yours. But I can’t do this, nor can most people I know, and it’s frustrating to be punished for it.

          At the moment I have finally found,through word of mouth, a doctor who manages to keep to a schedule probably 90% of the time (she asks patients to arrive and sign in 10 minutes before the appointment time; if you haven’t signed in by 5 minutes past your appt time your appt is canceled [though she doesn't make you pay]). Almost always, she is ready to see you EXACTLY at your allotted time. I really don’t see why more doctors can’t do that, I did really like my old doctor but I just couldn’t stand having a 1:30 appt and never knowing whether I’d be seen at 1:30, 2:15, or 3:45. I’m a single working mom, there’s just no room for nonsense like that in my life.

          • Matthew Mintz

            While I am not exactly saying that “beggars can’t be choosers”, I am saying that the current reimbursement system does not allow for efficient and customer friendly primary care practices. Your idea of taking your money that your boss spends on your behalf in your own hands an set up a low cost/high deductible insurance plans with and HSA is one possible solution. Have you asked your boss about this?

            My child just saw the pediatrician for her yearly check up. The doc billed $200, but only got $65 from my insurance company. Assuming the doc makes $100, 000 ( I realize more than most, but docs go through a lot of training and incur a tremendous amount of debt and $100K is even low for a primary care physician or pediatrician), and assuming 60% overhead (which is common for most insurance based practices, she would need to take in $250,000 a year to keep her salary. If she works 50 weeks a year, 5 days a week she would need to see about 15 regular check ups a day. In reality, the pediatrician sees fewer checks ups but many more visits, because the sick visits actually pay less than the well visits. Thus, she will likely see about 20-25 patients per day at an average of 20 minutes per visit. This includes any phone call, paper work, lab results, etc. (unless she does this during lunch or after hours, which many physicians end up doing). Thus, any patient that takes more than 20 minutes puts the physician behind and keeps others waiting

            To maintain the low salary (relative to medical specialist, lawyers, wall street types), the physician must keep up this volume. Decreasing the volume would decrease wait times, but would also mean a cut in pay.

            If you are aware of an insurance based primary care physician that can stay on time that’s great. However, in my experience, you can be good or on time, but you can’t be both.

  • querywoman

    The waits don’t bother me that much. But, I no longer work, and I can wait.
    After I worked in a public welfare office, I started understanding about why doctors make people wait: one person takes much more time, etc, umpteen phone calls and interruptions, etc..
    I have some good doctors now. I know they all bill for 15 minutes, but most of them give me a few more minutes.
    I give docs online ratings and reviews, some good, some bad, some in-between.
    But these surveys are ridiculous on the time conflicts? Do you have to wait too long for the doc? Does the doc spend time with you?
    Lots of times I have to wait on a doctor because he or she is having to spend a LOT of time with one patient! I want the time, too, at my turn!

  • JannyPi

    One of the best experiences I’ve had waiting for a Dr is when the receptionist told me that they were running behind and suggested that I spend the 30-45 minutes grabbing a quick lunch. Having an idea how long the wait might be gives ME control of how I want to spend my time.
    The worst was a Dr who was scheduled to see FOUR patients in every 15 minute slot. So all four of us had the same appointment time! He was generally 90 minutes behind. I fired him, my time is worth something!

    • http://www.facebook.com/adamabanks Adam Banks

      I agree, the second someone it told how long the wait will be all anxiety leaves the patient and a new reality sets in (and you can go get a cup of coffee). Waits that are indeterminate cause anxiety.

      • Guest

        It’s a lot like travel. I have no problem with the looooong trip to and from New Zealand, because I know how long I’ll be in the air and I can count down the hours and fill my time accordingly (eat, sleep, read, sleep, eat, read, sleep, do toiletries, eat, land!). But delays on the tarmac? I go mad, no knowing whether it’s going to be 15 minutes or 4 hours.

        We’re funny animals, we humans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beau.ellenbecker Beau Ellenbecker

    “Patients are customers, and most businesses try to focus on doing what they can to keep their customers happy, ”

    Um…no they aren’t. Only business people think patients are customers. Doctors do not and never have. I have never, ever referred to a patient as a customer.

    Patients seek medical opinion from an educated professional

    Customers seek information and/or product from anyone willing to sell it.

    The customer is always right…. the patient is not.

    The customer can chose what they want always… the patient can not. (i.e – you may FEEL you “need antibiotics” but I may KNOW you do not and choose not to write them)

    I want my patients to be happy with my care but I feel no obligation to ensure you are happy. That is one of the many problems wrong in medicine today. Doctors shouldn’t have “satisfaction” scores. You may be unhappy with result but that doesn’t mean the care you got was poor or incorrect.

    • querywoman

      Dr Beau, you are right on this one!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Frank-Lehman/100002241640186 Frank Lehman

      You need to understand what a customer is. A customer is someone to whom you provide a product, good, or service. It is that simple.

      If you think that medical care, certainly including receiving professional medical advice, professional medical treatment, related medical products, etc. does not constitute receiving products, goods, or services, then you have not thought things out very well.

      If your customers are not satisfied with your services, products, etc., you can expect them to go elsewhere. If that happens too often, your business of providing those professional goods and services will fail. More to the point, it deserves to fail.

      • http://www.facebook.com/adamabanks Adam Banks

        Patients have a choice in providers – and a lot of what they talk about to their friends about is 1. did they wait and 2. was the doctor nice. These are two areas great ways in which we can always improve.

    • http://www.facebook.com/adamabanks Adam Banks

      I consult physicians on how to improve their practices and their profitability. From my observations, the 1 easiest thing (that costs nothing) that a provider can do to set their practice apart competitively is to run on time.

  • SarahJ92

    Television has NO place in a waiting room.

    • querywoman

      I hate TV, and agree with you! But we are outnumbered by people who love the idiot box! I don’t want anything flashy or noisy around me in a waiting room, and that includes some jerk’s cell phone!

  • cmendezm

    I know emergencies do happen but they do not happen very often in my office. My patients tend not to wait. I am 99% on time getting to the office. I will not see a patient who is over ten minutes late for an appointment. The well patients who are late have to reschedule for another day. The sick patient has to reschedule for later that day if I have appointments available if not they are referred to the er. I do not double book my appointments. No show appointments are charged $25 for sick visits and $50 for well visits. Walk ins are put into the next available appointment slot, if they cannot wait then they are referred to the er. This is a great way to weed out the chronic no showers and late birds.
    I know this sounds cold hearted but I almost never run late and Im always home for dinner with my family.
    Medicine is not worth giving up my health and my life for.

    • M.K. Caloundra

      It only sounds “cold-hearted” to your chronic no-shows or late-birds, I would expect. I bet the patients who manage to grasp the concept that respect for others’ time is a two-way street quite appreciate the lack of wait time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/adamabanks Adam Banks

      We find it very important to “train” patients by charging no show fees. If you are religious (and timely), patients learn that they can’t walk on you.

      • Guest

        My new doctor (I fired my old one because my schedule could not accommodate taking off an entire morning or afternoon off for a 15-minute appointment) doesn’t charge no-show fees, but she does cancel appointments if you don’t sign in at the front desk by 5 minutes past your scheduled appointment time.

        As a result, my normal waiting time is almost exactly 10 minutes ….. because I have learnt to aim to get there around 10 minutes BEFORE my time, just to be on the safe side ;)

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