In the article ‘Appointments – getting it right’1 (AFP January/February 2011) the point is driven that ‘demand is predictable’. My own experience of 20 years in general practice is that demand is not reasonably predictable and this has led me to work with no appointments at all! In my practice patients may get seen within a few minutes of their arrival; rarely they wait for more than half an hour.
I changed my practice decades ago after becoming frustrated with some patients not attending and having to wait for late patients.
Practising with appointments is extremely inefficient in other ways too. Most of the late patients would be apologetic and would spend half of the visit time explaining why. On the other hand, when the practice schedule was behind time, I would have to explain the reasons for my being late! Unnecessary niceties would take up more than half the consultation time.
Although it may sound improbable to have a steady day without appointments this has worked well for me over the years. The beauty of not having appointments is that I can fill in the quiet times, with administration, checking results/follow ups, reading online newspapers, or writing reports or letters to the editor!
- Knight A, Lembke T. Appointments: getting it right.
Aust Fam Physician 2011;40:20–3.