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How To Get A Doctor Appointment Sooner


To make an appointment:

Experience indicates that you are likely to get an earlier appointment if you speak with a person rather than schedule an appointment by a medium such as the internet.

  • If you can't get an appointment as soon as you'd like, it may be worthwhile to take the appointment you're given. Then let the scheduler know you'd still like an earlier date, to put you on the cancellation list, and to call you if there are cancellations. On average 10-20% of all medical appointments get canceled or changed each week.
  • Rather than rely on the person to call, you can call periodically (say every few days, or every week depending on the circumstances)  to find out if there have been any cancellations and to remind the person you're still looking for an earlier date. 
    • Particularly call on a Monday morning about 10. The busiest time for cancellations is early Monday morning.
    • It's helpful to try to make friends with the person who schedules the appointment. 

When calling for an appointment, let the medical office know the purpose and objective of your visit. This will help to insure that you are given the amount of time that you need. (Medical office visits are generally divided into three categories: extended, intermediate and brief. These classifications are based on the amount of time that you will require with the doctor).

If you need an appointment with a specialist:

Ask the referring doctor's office to make the appointment for you. The referring doctor's office can explain the medical necessity for an earlier appointment. Also, since the doctor refers business to the specialist, his or her request is likely to receive priority treatment. 

If you have to make the appointment yourself, consider calling the chief of the particular department at a hospital in which the doctor works. Ask the assistant for a referral to the type of doctor you need, or perhaps to a specific doctor. Then, when you call for the apointment, you can say that "Dr. X, the head of ....." asked me to call and set up an appointment as soon as possible."

To avoid waits in the doctor's office - or at least reduce wait times to a minimum:

  • Be the doctor's first appointment in the morning or after the noon break.
  • Call ahead to find out whether the doctor is running on time.

When you want to get through to your doctor with questions:  Ask the doctor or his/her team how to ask questions without an appointment. For example, by e-mail, or a time during the day the doctor sets aside for phone calls.

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