When a patient phones to make an initial appointment he/she receives an explanation of our cancellation policy from my secretary Jay. This applies to every appointment- new patient and follow up.
Two days ( 48 hours ) before the appointment a text message, which cannot be replied to, is sent to every patient, and at this time, and before 24 hours prior to the appointment the patient can cancel. This enables Jay to fill that space ( there is quite a long cancellation list) and avoids the problem of wasted time. It is not acceptable to e-mail over the weekend to cancel a Monday appointment for example. It is also not acceptable to phone on Friday after 4:00 pm since the phone is not answered after this time. The text will always be sent on Thursday, in the morning.
This is necessary because large tracts of time are set aside for each appointment- and I prepare for every appointment in advance to ensure maximum benefit to my patients in the allotted time. Some of my colleagues have gone a step further and actually bill patients in advance, giving them their medicare rebate when ( if) they come to the appointment.
Cancellation policies are necessary ( unfortunately) and I adhere very strictly to mine.