How to Deal with Last Minute Cancellations at your Rheumatology Practice

Last minute cancellations can be frustrating, but they can be a good thing too if your office is prepared to handle them. Working to regularly fill cancellations has a huge impact on your practice’s bottom line and keep your office moving smoothly. Here are three ideas for dealing with last minute cancellations at your rheumatology practice.

Create an active list.

A clear and detailed waiting list allows you to have a back-up plan in the event of a last minute cancellation. An efficient waiting list allows you to use your available resources more effectively. Provide patients with an opportunity to enter their name on a list. If an appointment opens up, you will have information about potential patients who are ready and willing to come in. Set up a system to immediately alert patients of a schedule opening. You can quickly fill that open slot and make both your patients and your bottom line happy!

Establish a cancellation policy.

Create a policy that encourages your customers to show up when they make an appointment. Make sure your policy directly reflects you, your practice and your patient base. If your policy and your specific demographic of patients don’t match, you will lose them. Keep this in mind as you create your policies and work on putting them into place. Experiment with different techniques and implement the method that works best with your patients and your rheumatology practice. Whatever policy you settle on, be certain that your policy is provided in writing for your patients to clearly see.

Utilize appointment reminders.

One of the best way to deal with last minute cancellations is to try and prevent them.  Ensure you are using effective reminders for your patients and make sure they are tailored to fit their needs. Ask your patients which method they prefer and then contact them that way. Make sure your reminders and consistent and done in a timely manner. If you want to rely on your patients, its important they can rely on you.

Unfortunately, there not a one-size-fits-all solution to handling last minute cancellations, but being prepared and knowing how to make the best of a bad situation can help. While these ideas are important, the key is to be flexible, professional and organized. If you have any ideas for handling last minute cancellations, please share them on our Facebook page!


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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
  • Thanks to all those wonderful people in the NORM Network who respond to emails, offering their advice, experience, time, and support ... I haven't even been a member a full year yet and I am amazed at the dedication of everyone who responds to helping via emails and the NORM Organization itself! I have barely had a chance to explore the resources and I have yet to really dive into requests for help still I am silently learning so much and do occasionally offer what I can! Thank you all!- Cheryl Piambino, Kenneth E. Bresky, DO

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