When a patient phones to make an initial appointment he/she receives an explanation of our cancellation policy from my secretary. This applies to every appointment- new patient and follow up.
Two days (at least 48 hours ) before the appointment a text message, which cannot be replied to, is sent to every patient, and on this day a patient may ring to cancel or change his/her appointment. A Wednesday appointment will receive a text on the Monday, and a cancellation must be made on that day. This enables my secretary to fill that space ( there is quite a long cancellation list) and avoids the problem of wasted time. It also ensures that patients can be seen soon after they make their initial appointment even if the first time available seems weeks away. 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.