I get asked this question a lot regarding my policy on patients who show up late or don't show up at all. We give our patients a call the day before and if they confirm they are coming, we count on them showing up. Just to be clear, we do not penalize them if we can't confirm with them and they don't arrive. However, those patients who check in online and come 15 minutes late or more, are usually not seen. GASP! I'm turning away good business you say?
As Ron Shirey (my college choir director) would always tell me, if you are early you are on time and if you are on time you are late. The fury in the old man's eyes when he spotted my friend and me tip-toeing on stage late during a dress-rehearsal was enough to make you want to hide in the practice room forever. What I know now is that not only his time but every choir member's time was valuable. Everyone had made an effort to show up prepared and on time for the better of the group. By showing up late, I hurt everyone involved because it was a distraction, and I didn't respect everyone and the director enough to show up on time.
When patients do not show up on time, there is sometimes a catastrophic reason. Perhaps the patient had a seizure which didn't allow leaving the house at the planned time. Maybe there was a section of overpass that fell on the highway causing traffic backup in 3 counties. Sometimes people forget or oversleep. Whatever the reason, if you are leaving with enough time to be early, in most situations, you will arrive on time. This is basic time management skill that we all can do well with properly working executive function.
So you are here, 15 minutes late and you are begging me to see you. So I give in and bring you back for a session I had planned 45-55 minutes of my time for, to devote entirely to you, no distractions to help you with what is ailing you. I plan this for every person I schedule because it is what you deserve. You have my undivided attention for this session. We get started 15 or more minutes late, and 5-10 minutes more as you talk to me about why you were late, and why I shouldn't be mad at you because it wasn't your fault. So we really get to work with your short and long term goal targets and I'm trying frantically to squeeze in and remember everything that I need to address. You end up taking up just as much time as I had originally planned, however now I am 15 minutes late for my next patient and I haven't even charted your data.
I know that we all have lives that get hectic sometimes, and there is maybe one day out of each week that I feel totally efficient with my time management skills. Please remember if you're upset at the front desk because "it was out of your control," I owe it to my other patients to be on time for them. It's a domino effect, and it is good business to be prompt with your delegated time slots from both ends.