Making and Keeping Appointments

An interesting thing happened in the offices (Riley and North) this past month. I had only one new patient not arrive for a new allergy appointment. That represents a 98% rate of show for my new patients. That is great!!

As with many offices, we also struggle with appointments made but not kept. What happened in my practice was that this created a waiting time for new patient appointments at three months. That was too long and unacceptable. I thought long and hard about how to increase the rate of show and hopefully cut down on that prolonged wait time for an appointment.

I recalled an article  for which I was the lead author. This publication looked at asthma adherence. Part of that study included appointment keeping behavior. When a family was given an appointment by a health care office about 2/3 kept that appointment. When a family was told to make an appointment, the rate of show was 95%.

I have always wondered about our tendency to try to schedule appointments ‘office to office’ and just how well that works. It is a nice service however it may not be very effective or efficient. It may have worked for a time in the past, but I have doubts about offering that policy today. When an appointment is failed, the time of the referring physician’s office staff and our staff was wasted. I have always thought that it may be better to have families make appointments themselves. This would be a form of empowerment for a family. When a family goes home and later calls to make an appointment they have had a chance to think about a consultation and whether or not they agree with the need. They may want to consider other providers for this service. There was a chance to discuss it with other family members. Their calendars were at hand. Travel could be considered. There are many positive outcomes for doing it this way.

All too often the family is not aware of their schedule when an office makes an appointment for them. Sometimes the families don’t agree with the need for a consultation. Consider also time, transportation, cost, and even results. When a family makes their own arrangements, they are more wedded to the idea. The family is talking directly to our representatives so issues of location, time, and preparation (stopping only antihistamines) are gone over directly and not later via a third person.

So why did we do so well in January 2012 with new patient appointments (in rank order of importance)?

  • Families really wanted to see me
  • Families made their own appointments
  • It was a quirk and it will never happen again

Regardless, I like to stay busy. I cringe when I hear that my wait time is longer than 2 weeks. Hopefully this trend will continue.

FEL (2-1-2012)


February 1, 2012 · fleickly · 4 Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Allergy Appointments, Allergy Clinic, Interesting Stories

4 Responses

  1. Bethany - February 1, 2012

    Interesting theories. Did you consider the number of new patients you had this month when the families made their own appointments versus number of new patients when the appointments were made for them? Are you getting the same number of new patients with the new policy? Just curious.

  2. fleickly - February 1, 2012

    Thanks for the question Bethany. All of our new patients are scheduled by the families, we do not go through any 3rd parties for this communication. It is hard to say about having the same number of new patients. All the new patient slots have been full and the wait list has decreased. My guess is that we will indeed see more children due to the shorter wait times and the full schedules. Last year to date- I had a 30% no show rate.
    FEL 2-1-2012

  3. Kristi Espiritu - March 16, 2012

    I hate to hear when people do not keep the appointments they make. Time is indeed money, but as a mom of a “Riley” kid, these appointments help guide what happens next in my childs life. Thanks for the last 7 years and we promise to always be there, and be on time! 🙂

    Mom to Tryston E.

  4. fleickly - March 19, 2012

    You are great- thanks for the comments.