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Chronic Illness? A Simple Guide To Booking Health Care Appointments

I really don’t like booking appointments! Maybe it’s because I have to make so many of them or they are annoying reminders that I have chronic conditions.

But managing a chronic illness takes time and organization. Part of that management involves booking the appointment.

Since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2002 I’ve seen many changes in the health care system. Providers are busier. The hospital system is stressed. (My experiences are from a Canadian point of view) And the introduction of technology has both challenged and improved client services.

Keeping this is mind; we may be able to tailor our appointments to meet our needs. I understand there are times when this is not possible. But it has been done. And it all starts at the beginning when we make our first contact.

So here’s my …

Simple guide to booking an appointment.

Be open and transparent with office staff

When you call to book your appointment be clear with the staff about why you want to see the practitioner. Then they can book your appointment with all the information they need.

For example, your issue may require diagnostic testing prior to your appointment and the office staff will be able to arrange this for you. Some practitioners have standing orders for lab tests or x-rays. This may eliminate extra visits.

Or your health issue may require extra time. The staff can book your visit accordingly. It is more efficient for everyone involved.

If you’re embarrassed sharing your information with the office staff remember that they are professionals and are part of the health team. And if privacy is a concern, all staff sign confidentiality agreements as part of their employment.

Ask for more time

Some providers have strict time limits for appointments. If you want additional time ask for it at the time you book your appointment. Tell them the reason you need more time and they may accommodate you. Or perhaps they will find time for you at the end of the day.

Don’t wait until you arrive at the office to ask for this. Staff have not accounted for this request and you likely can’t be accommodated.

Call ahead

Sometimes we have appointments with providers that are new to us. Call a few days ahead to make sure they are expecting you. They may be waiting on information from your regular office. Check to see that it has arrived. It’s frustrating to have the appointment cancelled due to miscommunication.

Use technology

Automated phone systems can be frustrating. If you’re having trouble getting through to your provider don’t call at peak hours like Monday morning or lunch hour. Or if the technology is too complicated for you, ask a family member or friend to make the call on your behalf.

Use email. My provider has an email option for non-urgent appointment booking and it works very well.

And always have your calendar available when you call to write down your appointment date. Use traditional pen and paper if that works best for you.

If you have a smart phone try out the various apps. If that sounds intimidating ask someone close to you who is tech savvy to guide you through the process. In some areas, local libraries and schools offer tutorials on smart phone technology free of charge. That could be fun!

Next steps

Now that you have booked your appointment you need to prepare for the big day. This is all part of managing a chronic illness. But it is worth it to feel in control and live a healthy life.

Next time …. things you need to take to your appointment. Here’s a hint. More than your wallet.


Have you used any of these techniques when booking health care provider appointments?

Chronic Illness? A Simple Guide To Booking Health Care Appointments

Sharen Skelly

Sharen Skelly is a retired Registered Nurse from Ontario, Canada. She has a diploma in Nursing from Algonquin College and a Certificate in Community Nursing from Sir Sandford Fleming College. Despite diagnoses of fibromyalgia, trigeminal neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis and depression, Sharen lives a productive life. She is a host and community producer at Rogers TV, Grey County and a freelance writer. In addition, she is a peer leader/community health educator with the South West Ontario Local Health Integration Network, Self-Management Program for people with chronic conditions/chronic pain developed by Stanford University. A single mother of 2 grown children, what Sharen likes to do most is spend time with her family and friends. Follow Sharen on Psych Central at Chronic Illness Conversations.

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APA Reference
Skelly, S. (2018). Chronic Illness? A Simple Guide To Booking Health Care Appointments. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 9 Aug 2018
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