Reminder calls are driving me out of my mind

What began as a convenient courtesy—the doctor’s office reminder call—is quickly turning into a very inconvenient game of appointment roulette.

I was driving along minding my own business a couple of days ago, when the phone rang. (I have Bluetooth in the car, by the way.) It was the hospital at which I’ll be having a routine procedure done some time or another in August, and the caller wanted to know if I could confirm the procedure by telling her the date and the doctor.

Why, no. No, I can’t. Not without looking at my calendar which I won’t do because I’m driving. So, she asked me if I could confirm my birth date. Why, yes. Yes, I can. I don’t have to look that up, but how about starting there? Then, I was asked to confirm my address and best phone number and emergency contact upon which I was told that I was now preregistered for the registration call that will be placed at some point. Naturally, once I arrive for the procedure, they’re going to ask me the same ding-dong questions anyway, but who am I to question medical science?

And all this for a procedure that will take place on August 13. I know that now because I looked it up. I still don’t remember the doctor’s name, but given the procedure, one that everyone over 50 is supposed to have every 3-10 years, I don’t think he’s interested in going out to lunch once he’s finished.

This is the same medical system that routinely has its Robot Reminder call on a Friday or Saturday evening or as I like to refer to them, The Evenings I’m Least Likely to Be In. Of course, the fear is that if I don’t answer, or if I don’t hit #1 or type the letter A to confirm, or if I don’t do the hokey pokey and turn myself around, that the Robot Reminder will cancel my appointment.

“Respond to this reminder, Will Robinson, or I will cancel your appointment!”

My buddy Al recently received a reminder text from his dentist about an upcoming appointment. He texted back that he remembered and would be there, but when he arrived the receptionist told him that his appointment had been given to someone else because he hadn’t responded. He pulled out his phone and showed her his confirmation response at which time he was told that because he didn’t call to confirm, his appointment was canceled.

Al is now searching for a new dentist.

It’s nice that our doctors would like to remind us about appointments, but if we’re going to be terrorized by appointment-canceling robots, I’d like to go back to the old-fashioned paper appointment cards, please.

About Austin Gisriel

You know the guy that records a baseball game from the West Coast in July and doesn't watch it until January just to see baseball in the winter? That's me. I'm a writer always in search of a good story, baseball or otherwise.
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12 Responses to Reminder calls are driving me out of my mind

  1. Allyn says:

    My COVID vaccination shenanigans were similar.

    When I received a text that I could schedule my appointment, I had to remember which email address I used; I didn’t use my usual email addy because its spam blocking is a little too strict but I can’t scale that back, so I had to try two others until I found the one that worked for me to set up my appointment.

    Then everything was fine… until three hours before my shot, when I received a text that they were confirming that I had cancelled my appointment.

    I had done no such thing.

    I logged into the patient portal, saw that my appointment was still scheduled, screenshotted it just to be sure, and went to the hospital anyway, where I had no issues at all. I spent more time waiting to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction than I did waiting to get signed in and get my shot.

    For what it’s worth, I never received any texts about the second shot a month later.

    I figure a computer glitched somewhere along the way. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


  2. Hunter Hollar says:

    In 2009, I moved and had to set up some new physician relationships. One of those was with a dermatologist. I set up the appointment as a new patient some months in advance. A week or so prior to the appointment, I got a call from a person at the office wanting to confirm my appointment–which I did. When I showed up for the appointment, I was told that the appointment was cancelled because I had not responded to a second, automated confirmation call–which I had no knowledge of ever having received. I was livid. But, because of long lead times with physicians, I swallowed my pride and set up a new appointment. Fast forward to yesterday: I had a suspicious spot on my arm and was anxious to get it checked out by my dermatologist. I called at 9:30 am and was seen at 2:45 pm. The spot was identified and surgically removed in the office on the same visit. The dermatologist? The same one that made me so mad 12 years before. It has turned out to be a wonderful medical relationship. So, swallowing my pride in 2009 turned out well. And, I don’t even get those annoying reminders anymore. I think the office discontinued them.


  3. jal64 says:

    We’ve all been there but maybe not quite to the point of losing an appointment. I hope Al made his move on the spot and the Doc was listening in.

    For the benefit of the younger set in the audience, I think a more appropriate Robby admonition would be directed toward Dr. Morbius or Cmdr Adams.


  4. Tom Newkirk says:

    I left a reply – to you column re: “Catching Up To Dad” because I knew your Dad (and Mom). It never got posted nor did I get any indication that you saw it.

    Tom Newkirk


    • Hmmm, you should have received a reply to your original comment, at least, it is showing up here. I’d love to see any photos that you may have and appreciate your commenting!


      • Tom Newkirk says:

        I have a 36 second “video” that has you and your parents when you were a baby. While there is nothing secret or embarrassing, I don’t want to put the link where it is public (you can do that if you so desire). Is there an email I can send the link to just you? Thanks, Tom


      • Wonderful! Yes, send it to agisriel@yahoo dot com


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