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MANAGING PATIENTS

Model Policy: Patient scheduling and appointments

Why you need this policy:

Getting patients to properly make and honor their appointments is a challenge faced by just about all practices. Although no-shows, walk-ins, and late appointments can’t totally be prevented, establishing a clear set of ground rules for the making and keeping of appointments can minimize them and establish your right to charge fees and take other appropriate actions in response.

How this policy helps you:

This Model Policy addresses the key issues to cover in a scheduling and appointments policy, including how appointments should be made, changed, and cancelled, as well as an explanation of availability constraints that may result in the patient’s not being able to see the specific doctor he/she scheduled the appointment for. The other excellent aspect of this Model Policy is that it includes a provision that typical policies omit—waiting time. The pledge to minimize waiting time may take at least some of the edge off the unhappiness of patients who do inevitably end up having to wait to see their doctor.

How to use this policy:

This Model Policy is also an amalgamation of provisions from other practices. The organization and approach of the Policy is one to replicate; but because each practice follows a different scheduling and appointment procedure, you’ll need to revise the substance of many of the Sections (especially Sections 3, 4, and 6) to reflect what you do at your own practice.

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