Periodically, we receive questions from patients wondering why they received a fee for failing to keep an appointment when they have a good reason for missing their appointment. We would like to take a couple of minutes to explain why a charge is implemented for failed appointments.
First and foremost, we would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for all of our patients for allowing us to partake in their care and treatment. Undoubtedly, at some point in time, many of them will have unexpected events, circumstances, or reasons they must reschedule on short notice or fail to keep an appointment. We understand that these events can arise unexpectedly and with little to no notice. In many circumstances, we explain to patients that if we were in their situation, we would likely need to cancel that appointment as well.
Sometimes we use the analogy that if a patient had a ticket for a concert and was unable to make that concert for any reason, would they expect a refund of their ticket? While the events leading up to the patient being unable to keep the date for the concert may have been beyond their control and not their fault, the reserved seat for the concert is nonetheless wasted and the value cannot be recouped after the fact.
Unfortunately, regardless of how good the reason for failing to keep an appointment, it does result in a block of time that was reserved specifically for that patient being wasted. With less than 24 business hours notice, it is very unlikely that we would be able to offer the appointment to another patient who would be able to adjust their schedule last minute to make it.
In order to have a functioning clinic with staff, equipment, supplies, providers, etc. available and ready to treat patients, there is a considerable amount of overhead and expense involved. As of 2021, that overhead runs well in excess of $400 per hour per provider. Again, regardless of how legitimate of a reason for a failed appointment with less than 24 business hours notice, that wasted appointment slot results in an expense to the practice.
Our current fees of $35 for a no-show appointment help to defray a portion of the cost that is incurred by our practice. Double appointments, longer appointment slots, surgical appointments, or two day procedure appointments may result in higher or multiple no-show fees (these charges are subject to change without notice). We believe that our fees for failed appointments are at the lower end of the spectrum for our community. No-show fees ranging from $50-$150 per occurrence are typical in other practices. This fee is not meant to serve as a punishment but rather to help defray the cost incurred by our practice due to a missed appointment.
We will always strive to work with our patients to make it as convenient as possible when rescheduling. The further in advance that we are notified, the more likely we are to be able to work with the patient in order to accomplish this task. In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, we were temporarily waving no-show fees as there was a great deal of uncertainty and panic related to the pandemic. That policy was discontinued in July 2020.
We hope this helps to explain the necessity of a small charge for failure to keep an appointment. We do look forward to seeing our patients in our offices and continuing to provide them with the best care that we can. Thank you for your trust.
The Staff of Northeast Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center
The Staff of SKIN Dermatology & Aesthetics