In a conversation a few days ago with a couple of my good friends, we were discussing no show charges with healthcare providers. One of my friends recently missed a doctor’s appointment and promptly received a bill from her doctor for a significant amount of money because she was a ‘no show’. I understand the logic behind this in terms of loss of income because that timeslot was now empty, or was it?
I thought back to so many times that I scheduled an appointment with a doctor six months in advance, showed up on time, then had to wait for an hour or more before the doctor could see me because they were backed up. So why were they backed up? Perhaps they overbooked, or maybe there was an emergency, in any case, they could have provided an explanation when I arrived. The staff surely knew about the backlog of patients, so why didn’t they tell me this? Maybe I could have rescheduled, after all, my time is valuable too!
I may have appointments after this one that I would be late to if I had to wait. And everyone understands the concept of ‘time is money’. Every time this has happened to me it also causes a tremendous amount of stress because the longer I have to wait, the angrier I get and my blood pressure undoubtedly rises. I’ve even gone to find a nurse and told them if the doctor didn’t show up in the next 5 minutes I was leaving. This usually gets their attention but I really don’t like to do that because at that point, the damage is done.
My friend offered a solution that I’m pretty sure no healthcare provider would agree to, but maybe more patients ought to make this suggestion as an incentive for doctors to meet appointment times. She suggested that since we are charged ‘no show’ fees when we miss appointments, it’s only fair that if the doctor is x amount of minutes late seeing us, that our bill should be reduced. I thought that was a great idea! Doctor’s are service providers after all, and when a consumer is not happy with their service provider, it’s their prerogative to find another one that will provide the expected level of customer service.