No More Bumps

September 1, 2005

Our physicians sometimes cancel appointments at the last minute because they need to attend CME courses or have a vacation planned. How many such physician "bumps" should we have? What can we do to reduce them?

Question: Our physicians sometimes cancel appointments at the last minute because they need to attend CME courses or have a vacation planned. How many such physician "bumps" should we have? What can we do to reduce them?

Answer: Your goal should be to have no physician bumps. Cancelled appointments create stress, have obvious negative consequences for patient satisfaction, and generate costs due to the internal staff resources needed to reschedule appointments.

Moreover, the vast majority of physicians need and want to see patients. For starters, physicians get paid to see patients; bumps can reduce their income. Add the cost of rescheduling the appointments and the loss of patient loyalty, and bumps can have a significant financial impact.

To combat bumps, many practices set windows for announcing CME and vacation schedules. Physicians have to announce their absence at least six weeks before they expect to be out (unless an emergency arises), so rescheduling is kept to a minimum.

If you have a concern about yours, track "bumps" by physician for at least a quarter. Include the cost of rescheduling, and any comments from disgruntled patients or referring physicians. Put the data - and comments - in a report, and present it at the next physicians' meeting.

"Bumps" are just as important as patient no-shows. Both mean that your practice bears the cost of the appointment - without any revenue to show for it.