Physicians are increasingly using the “meet & greet appointment” for new patients wanting to join their practice, but is this practice acceptable? Meet & greet appointments are only appropriate when both the physician and the patient require an introduction to each other.
Is it appropriate to schedule an introductory appointment before accepting a patient into your practice?
Yes, if done correctly. Meeting with patients before establishing a physician-patient relationship can be an opportunity to:
- Share information about the practice, staff hours, “no show” policies, etc.
- Understand the individual’s medical history and determine if any aspects fall outside the physician’s scope of practice.
- Allow the individual to determine if this relationship will meet their expectations for managing future health needs.
- Allow both parties to decide if this relationship is mutually beneficial.
Can I use meet & greets to select patients?
No, the appointment cannot be used as a means of screening patients (e.g. choosing only the healthy or less complex patients), and care should be taken when declining to establish a physician-patient relationship after reviewing a patient’s history, as this may be viewed as “cherry picking” or discriminating.
The CMA Code of Ethics & Professionalism states: “physicians cannot discriminate against patients on such grounds as age, gender, marital status, medical condition, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.”
If a clinic is accepting new patients, patients should be admitted on a first come, first serve basis (unless their care is outside your scope of practice).
Can I do meet & greets virtually, or do they have to be in person?
In light of the pandemic and public health orders, it’s fine to conduct meet & greets virtually. For more information on virtual care, please see the COVID-19: Virtual Care Advice to the Profession document.
Can I bill for meet & greets?
A meet & greet is an uninsured service and is not billable to AHCIP. It’s not advisable to bill for a meet & greet unless you do some physical examination and history—in this case, you may only claim for the exam/history portion of the visit. Once you take a history and provide a physical examination, the visit is no longer a meet & greet, and a duty of care is established.
If the sole purpose of the meet & greet is to determine whether a physician-patient relationship will be established, and there is no physical exam and history, the visit should not be billed.
For information on billing, please contact the Alberta Medical Association.
Questions? Contact Chantelle Dick, Standards of Practice Advisor: