TMJ Therapy treatment VA Falls Church The Case of the Cancellation Conundrum Flickr cc credit Dafne CholetThis morning I am doing my usual prepping for the day- reviewing patient records, reading MRI’s, and seeing if the schedule is looking good. As I do my review, I notice there is a note on one patient- she is very upset she could not get in sooner! As I look into her notes, turns out she cancelled her regular appointment a month ago (at the last moment) and said she would call back when she is ready. And in the meantime, she broke her appliance and now demands to come in on an emergency basis! Well folks, this is what happens when you don’t keep up with the program- the appliance wears down or grooves get beaten into it from clenching/grinding and just plain normal use. This is why it is so important to keep up with regular appointments. This way we can make sure the device is smooth, properly structured, and easy to wear so that emergencies do not often happen.

The other problem with cancelling at the last minute is that we saved that slot on our schedule just for you, and when you cancel at the last minute, it is not usually possible to replace you with someone else at the last minute. Now we have to use more time later on to accommodate you which blocks up time for someone else who could have used that time slot. You see folks, I do not do what the airlines do-  I do NOT overbook and bump people off my flights! I honor their time and I would hope it is not too much to ask that they respect our time as well. Most of the time it works really well, I must admit, but when these last minute cancellations happen, it means that we have forever lost that time and now must re-create it later on which means more people becoming upset that they cannot get in when they want to. Does that make sense?

For example- yesterday I had 2 people cancel at the last minute, which seems to happen now and then. I get it, people are busy, they sometimes have work emergencies or last minute trips. But we lost that time and now have to make time for those folks in the coming weeks. Their time was NOW, not weeks from now, but they now transfer the problem to my scheduler who is being pressure to ‘make it work’ and somehow create time when there is none. One of the people who cancelled has done this three times already so in this case we cannot give her another appointment. She is welcome to call on a day when she really thinks she will come in, but by now her joints are probably in bad shape due to all the delays and cancellations, and the treatment protocol is disrupted greatly. She already complained to my manager that we are not being very accommodating and demands we see her on another day of her choosing. Well, nice idea, but we already had to reschedule other folks who did the same thing and are now taking time from other people. It’s a conundrum!

As I think about all this, I believe I understand some of what these people are thinking – that I am just like all the other doctors out there who over book, knowing people won’t show or will cancel, so who cares if I don’t show? Well folks, I can tell you that I have never done that and never will- I respect your time and all I ask is that you do the same.