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How to Handle Patients That Arrive Early to Your Functional Medicine Office


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Having patients arrive early enough to do additional screening and paperwork is ideal. Here in the post-COVID world, it can be a bit of a challenge if you have a patient arrive really early.  If you have shut your waiting room down, this can create frustration for your patients. 

Here are some ways you can help your patients arrive at the right time for their appointment. 

1. Communicate How Your Practice is Handling Intake

Every time you confirm an appointment with a patient, let them know how you are currently handling the intake. For example, if your lobby is closed, they need to be aware. If you are only allowing the patient into the office and no other family members, they should also be made aware of that. 

Make it a part of your process to email your patients ahead of time with the current guidelines for your office. You can create a page on your website and text a link if you have that ability. Also, verbally go over the information with them on the phone or leave a detailed message with any guidelines for the office. Be specific about the time you want them to arrive to make sure all of the intake is completed before they come into the building. 

2. Thank Them For Being Early  

You want to thank patients that show up early to their appointment, because then you know they will be on time. However, if they are more than a few minutes early, make sure they understand what time their appointment is scheduled. This could be a patient that likes to show up 30 minutes ahead, or it could be someone that just has the time wrong. By acknowledging that they are here ahead of schedule and letting them know what time the appointment is, there will no confusion on their part. 

3. Call Ahead if You Need to Push Their Appointment

There will be days when your schedule gets so far off that you may need to call patients and tell them to come a little later than their original appointment time. Your patients will appreciate being told to come 15-20 minutes later if you’re that far off, then to arrive and sit in their car for that length of time. 

4. Find a Room For Them to Wait In

For those patients that always show up 30 minutes early to their appointment, you can find a place in the office to let them sit. Take them to a consult room, extra office area, or even open the lobby just for them. Extend to your patients as much kindness as possible when they come to your office. 

5. Focus on Customer Service

However, you handle your early patient arrivals, focus on customer service. It isn’t going to be the same in every case. Find ways to go the extra mile for your patients and help them feel taken care of. The way they are treated leading up to the appointment is just as important as the patient care they receive from the doctor and medical staff. 

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