DURHAM, N.C. — It can be frustrating to call your doctor only to be told you cannot get an appointment for weeks, even months. A new way of thinking at some Triangle doctors' offices leaves plenty of "day of" appointments open.
Two years ago, patients at Triangle Family Practice in Durham had to wait three weeks for an appointment. The wait for a physical there was as long as three months and patients who were worked in for same-day appointments usually did not get to see their regular doctor.
Then the clinic switched to same-day scheduling.
Schedulers keep at least half of the day's appointment slots open, clearing the way for same-day appointments. "We would give you the times that were available for today to see the provider you asked for," said Dr. Carlos Sotolongo.
Sotolongo admits the transition was not easy. At first, the office had to see more patients to clear the backlog. For a while, they did not take new patients.
Now the the process has become routine and has offered patients more than convenience.
"As this evolved we found that we really had much more openings," Sotolongo said. "It's helped our practice, helped our morale and most important, it's helped our patients and the care we give our patients."
Currently, only a handful of practices in the Triangle use open scheduling. Most are part of the health systems at Duke and UNC. Sotolongo is working with other practices to help them make the switch.