An Appointment Missed by You is Really Missed by Two
We’ve all had one of those days: you spent days trying to get an appointment to see your primary care manager. You finally get one on the books, so you write it on your calendar. A few weeks later, you randomly look at your watch and realize you totally forgot about your appointment…and now it’s two hours after you were supposed to check in!
When it comes to being part of the military lifestyle, it’s no secret that “life happens.” But it’s important to know that missing scheduled appointments without officially cancelling them in advance means the physician’s office isn’t able to move the schedule around to fill your spot. If you’re being seen outside of a Military Treatment Facility (MTF), your provider may even charge you $20-$40 for not showing up!
Most MTFs have an appointment reminder system that will call two days prior to your scheduled visit, so make sure your phone number is updated in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), otherwise you won’t receive the appointment reminder.
If there’s a chance you might miss your scheduled appointment, your best bet would be to reschedule at least 24 hours in advance. You can easily do this through the TRICARE Online Patient Portal, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Showing up late for one reason or another can also lead to a snowball of scheduling mishaps. For example, if you had a 20 minute appointment scheduled and you show up 20 minutes late, you end up cutting into another patient’s visit as the provider tries to fit you in. Everyone else on the doctor’s schedule that day will end up with longer wait times, including you.
To avoid running late for an appointment, plan on leaving early enough to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. Leave yourself a buffer of time to account for traffic, tricky parking, or Murphy’s Law.
No-shows can do real damage to the military health system. Your health may suffer, the health of other patients may suffer, and appointment availability can be reduced from already slim, to none. If someone is ill and can’t be treated because another patient decided not to show up without cancelling first, then that sick person will suffer too. At some point, that sick person may be you.
Don’t worry, missing an appointment by accident happens to the best of us. But if you’re aware of who scheduling mishaps can affect, and you’re mindful of proper (and courteous!) cancellation procedures, you’ll help others fill vacant spots, so two people get care, instead of none.
Posted September 14, 2017