How does your office handle late patients when it's weather/road related? We had a patient show up 10 minutes late and threw a hissy fit because he had driven 40 miles on snowy roads to get there. And I felt bad, but we legitimately could not squeeze him in.

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Our clinic has a 10 minute policy. If 10 or more late provider decided weather they are seen or not. Appointments are 20 minutes each so it’s half their visit. If weather is really bad they may or may not see them. If they will still see them the patients who arrive on time will go first and they will just have to wait. People know it will take longer to get to the clinic so they should plan accordingly and leave early. It does depend on the situation and the day.

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That's what was tough about this one. We're also mostly 20-minute visits, so 10 minutes eats up half the time. And I would have loved to work with the patient. Unfortunately, we're understaffed on providers, and the patient didn't call in ahead of time to let us know they were running late. We also ask people to check in at least 5 minutes early, so 10 minutes late is definitely running behind. And the road conditions were, unfortunately, definitely warned about ahead of time. This storm wasn't a surprise. But I'm really trying to integrate better policies in the practice.

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I managed clinics for a long time. I created a process with my clinicians so that they felt they had control of their schedule but also I could consider the patient’s perspective. If a patient was 10 minutes late we would see if we could see them now or some time in the same day. Often times pts would wait 30-45 mins for the doc to catch up, and we would work the pt in. However if we could not catch up we offered an appt within 7 days that we could see the patient. We would ask them to come 15 minutes early to that appt to ensure there were no delays for them, and 99% of those patients arrived early. This worked great for my dermatology office as pts could wait 4-7 months to be seen. Rescheduling didn’t hurt that bad and did not feel like a punishment. Life happens, but I always told pts that the provider wants to give all their pts the time they deserve and he would t want to rush their appts no matter the situation. Rushing causes mistakes, and a mistake could be deadly.

10 mins could throw a provider off 30-40 minutes all day. That means no lunch for them, no time for urgent messages, or upset pts the rest of the day. 10 minutes late means they could have reset the room before an procedure, or the staff went to lunch. There so much more here. Asking this question is a great way to find the gaps, and make a better policy that involves the patient experience.

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That’s terrible patient handling… 10 minutes shouldn’t throw off the schedule to such an extent that would require denying seeing that patient, especially factoring in SDoH concerns. Also, given the current weather conditions, I can reasonably imagine others that day will have the same issue.

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We all need to remember that whether it is a medical practice or a hospital it is still all about customer service and the patient is paying for those services through premiums and copays etc. When I managed a practice from the ground up our policy was happy smiling faces on the telephone and at the front desk, and yes we can work you in if there was a problem. Everyone knew that someone would be working past 5:00 until all patients were seen. We paid time and a half per labor laws and you could volunteer. If no volunteers it was on a rotation basis. The doctor who was solo for the first several years had no problem working late. His practice was all referral business as he was a surgeon specialist in ophthalmology. So the referring doctors were our “customers “ too. He built a huge practice rapidly and our staff was well paid and appreciated. The patients loved him and the staff.

My doctor thinks nothing of making me wait at least 10 minutes on the regular so I would expect some grace in return.

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You'd expect. I came into this practice when it was in a bit of an upheaval because one of the main providers moved, the replacement NP backed out, and then there was a huge front office turnover. So I'm trying to nudge my office manager in the direction of revising policies like this one. But she's hard to persuade. The one thing our office does REALLY well is I've never seen a patient wait longer than 5 minutes in the waiting room and the really do get patients in and out effectively. I'm impressed, but they schedule things tiiiiiight.

I’d be pissed too if I was a patient. 10 minutes is not that big of a deal for such unusual circumstances. Why would you book the schedule so tightly with no buffer? That’s just asking for trouble. If my Doc couldn’t see me because of a 10 minute delay, I would find another Doctor.

If it was a repeat offender who was constantly 10 minutes late, then that would be a different story.

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Completely agree. This wasn't how I would have liked things to be handled, but these are the policies in the office I work in and what I am repeatedly told to enforce. (Don't shoot the messenger, you know?) That's what I'm trying to see what others are doing so I can bring suggestions to my office manager. Because saying, "hey, this isn't effective" like I did (AGAIN) today after that patient left doesn't work. She tells me to not bring her problems. Bring her solutions. So that's why I'm asking for help. I don't like doing this to our patients either.

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And yet patients go to the doctor and sit in the waiting room for an hour before seeing the doctor

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That is the one thing this practice does right. Patients do NOT spend much time in the waiting room. Five minutes, max. I actually timed it early on because I was so surprised with how efficient they were. People barely had time to sit down before they were called back when our third provider was still with us. A little slower now. But they definitely schedule things really tight. What's your office's policy? I'm trying to make a case to our office manager for changing policies. She's a hard sell though.

We do our best to squeeze people in even if they’re hours late. 10 minutes really shouldn’t throw off the schedule like that, especially considering they drove almost an hour in snow and on icy roads.

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I get it, I get it. It's bad. As far as driving an hour on crummy roads, that I can't affect. We're in a place with a lot of practices and people have plenty of options that are closer. However, our doctors do schedule things realllllly tight and are really effective at getting people in and out, so I know what from THEIR perspective this is reasonable. However, I'm trying to get things changed up because we're heading into winter and I honestly don't want to turn away patients all the time because it's SO frustrating to get into providers right now. What are the policies you've seen? I'm trying to survey what's typical and bring it to my office manager so I can advocate for our patients.

Honestly if I was this patient it would probably cause me not to return. I drive 45 minutes out of my way to see my primary doctor because I love her and her office SO MUCH! Good care is HARD to find and it shouldn't be. Also I live in a huge metro city so I have plenty of people to choose from but when someone goes above and beyond you can really tell & it does make a difference.

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Oh I could tell by your OP! I was just thinking out loud and giving my opinion ❤️❤️

10 minutes? Wow

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I feel that same, don't shoot the messenger. You can see from my comment below and replies above that I'm trying to get this changed, so any insight into what others are doing is super helpful <3

That is horrible and unheard of in my years of experience in healthcare. I would never return to your practice if I was your patient. Luckily I’m not.

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First of all, it's not my practice. I'm a front desker 😬 Second, I completely agree. It looks like there are others that have this same policy, BUT I've never worked at a practice that schedules so strictly before. You can probably see from my other comments that we're severely understaffed on providers (not something I can help with), and my office manager is a tough case to persuade (thus why I'm surveying what others are doing). So since you have several years of experience in healthcare, I could REALLY use your help in understanding what others' policies are so I can push for change. Thanks in advance <3

Our appts are 20 mins. We have people come in and miss their entire or half their appt. If you call ahead, we are more flexible.

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Our appts are also 20. Unfortunately, he didn't call ahead. I'm not sure what I would have done if he did anyway though. We're down a provider and he may have been in for quite a wait hoping for someone to cancel.

15min late is the office policy generally but I do 20minute visits for everything except new patients, tcm, wcc, and CPX which are 40

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It’s just me. I’m a small town physician with a large medical group. Ultimately if someone is late my office staff with check with me first if I’m not in a room. If I’m behind and my nurse is ready then usually they put them in because even if the patient was late so am I and they would have been waiting for me. If that doesn’t work then we try to reschedule writhin a week or two.

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Whoa, this kind of blew up. I wasn't trying to be rude. I'm just an office assistant and don't MAKE these policies as some of you are suggesting. I asked for advice because I knew it was a crummy situation and am trying to bring some solutions to the office manager to handle things better in the future. Please don't tear me apart.

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Could you recommend those patients who have bad experiences perhaps write a feedback email to management about this issues? My hospital has feedback options so they can say whatever about our care and visit. Perhaps by using this method it’ll help bring light to this issue to your manager? Also, maybe this isn’t ideal but if this position at this certain private practice won’t change and takes a toll on your health, I suggest looking for a new healthier job at a different location. Right now a lot of places are hiring for medical jobs and they might offer better benefits and management.

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