Each year, 28 million appointments on online sites are not honored by patients. Doctors are concerned about these growing incivilities. Jérôme Marty, general practitioner in Fronton and president of the French Union for Free Medicine (UMFL), alerted the Ministry of Health and Prevention and made proposals to stem the scourge.
After burnout, which affects over 60% of emergency medicine healthcare workers, a new “virus” is increasingly impacting the activity of general practitioners and medical specialists in France through online platforms., Such as Doctolib: la appointment syndrome that is not honored by the patient.
It may seem marginal, but since the end of September the unions have been warning about the consequences of these daily incivilities which still represent 28 million missed appointments a year in France.
Sure, the Ile-de-France region leads the pack, but for the French Union of Free Medicine (UMFL) and the Regional Union of Healthcare Professionals Ile-de-France, these millions of appointments that you lost are the equivalent of the “daily working hours of 4,000 doctors” and impact all regions.
The cause of this modern day scourge? Medical deserts and “overconsumption” of online dating sites, in the words of Dr. Jérôme Marty and President of UMFL, which push some patients to go to the most pressing matters. Without worrying about canceling their consultation in due form. The Haute Garonne is no exception.
“We see people who make an appointment with a doctor 30 km from home, then finally find an appointment closer or faster, sometimes with three different doctors, without thinking about what will happen next,” protests Jérôme Marty, general practitioner in Fronton. Every morning, during my consultations, on 25 patients, I always have one or two who do not respect the appointment. The problem is that they steal appointments from those who really need them, it’s unacceptable. “
For Umfl, which distributes posters in general practitioners’ offices to raise awareness of the phenomenon, this is not the first alert sent to public authorities.
“A first petition against what are called rabbits dates back to 2018, continues the president of the UMFL. These are uncivilized behaviors that persist, even as people receive SMS reminders from Doctolib. We could blacklist uncivilized patients, block their IP addresses, but that would be an anti-medical method. We must first change the public health code. We propose a deduction of 5 euros on the price of the consultation, not refundable by health insurance “.
Jérôme Marty believes this could be a binding solution for relapsing patients with a counterpart: the funds would be donated to combat medical deserts.
Doctolib implements preventive measures and looks for the parade
For the online dating platform Doctolib, which manages over 90 million appointments a year, “the fight against missed appointments is one of our priorities to preserve access to care and ensure the daily functioning of doctors, especially at this time. The website that specializes in making appointments with general practitioners and other medical specialists claims to have activated its resources.
“We are currently working with data analysts to objectify as much as possible this phenomenon that all doctors have to deal with but which no actor has yet documented in a precise manner, indicates the communications department. We will soon launch an important awareness campaign on this issue aimed at patients. […] “.
To prevent the patient from entrusting a “rabbit” to his doctor, Doctolib has implemented various systems. Reminder notifications: one of the key measures that significantly reduces the number of missed appointments. “At the time of booking: we inserted an information message in the assistance process and in the information email, explains Doctolib. Before confirming an appointment, the patient can read the following statement: By confirming this appointment, you agree to participate. Remember to cancel as soon as possible in case of unforeseen events. Finally, the platform foresees “the impossibility of combining two encounters that are too close together with less than eight days apart from each other”.