Paul McAleer

Canceling a Doctor's Appointment Online in 19 Easy Steps

Paul McAleer

I had a doctor’s appointment which I needed to cancel. Now, any reasonable person would pick up the phone, call the office, and do it that way. But I’m antisocial and wanted to do it online. Here’s how I did it.

  1. Google search for my doctor.
  2. Click to doctor’s website.
  3. Choose to sign up for the online health system they use. “Cancel, schedule, and reschedule appointments.” Perfect.
  4. Told I need to register for an account using either a hospital-specific ID I’ve never heard of, or my social security number. I choose the latter.
  5. Enter my SSN on a form along with my email address, name, DOB, physical address, phone number. I also need to choose my doctor again on this form even though I followed the link from her specific page. Fine. Submitted.
  6. Sent to page saying that I’ll get an invite from the system within one business day. Also told that if the incorrect doctor is listed in the email, I should accept the invite anyway.
  7. Receive email about 20 minutes later. Click Accept link in email (interestingly, there’s a Decline link too.)
  8. Fill in form with my email address, physical address, desired password, and - the kicker - insurance info. There’s a checkbox for “Fill this in later,” but it doesn’t work. I oblige, accept the T&Cs, and submit the form.
  9. Go to the Message Center.
  10. Click Appointments.
  11. Oddball form where I have to address my message: choose a patient (me), and a doctor (I only have one.) I do this. Click Next.
  12. I click the Cancel Appointment radio button. I can enter a date, time, and a note. But the system doesn’t know when my appointment is (!) I enter a date, I forgot the time, and say that I’ll reschedule later in the note.
  13. Click Send.
  14. Receive confirmation page saying my message was sent.
  15. About 10 minutes later, receive email message saying I have a new message in this system. I click the link to view the message.
  16. The message from the doctor’s office tells me I selected the wrong date, but have an appointment on another date. I click Reply to Doctor.
  17. I reply that yes, I made a boo-boo. Click Send.
  18. About 5 minutes later I get another email message saying that I have a new message in the system. I click the link to view the message.
  19. The message from the doctor’s office: “Oaky [sic], appointment canceled.”

Yep. Can’t imagine why user experience is important to these systems at all.

Sorry, folks, but it’s unacceptable that this takes so many steps in 2010.