I don't have to deal with this on the giving-bad-news end much, but as a receiver of these sorts of cancellations, I know it doesn't make me too happy. I try not to be rude, but when I have to revise my whole schedule, I get a little peeved. I never harass the scheduler, but I am certainly not overly gracious. As a juggler of a career and two kids, rescheduling appointments is frustrating. I feel bad for the person who has to call the patients. I know it's not your fault. But, I think people are just tired of POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE from their physicians.
Doctors want 24 hour notice of cancellation, or they can and will bill us, as their office signage indicates. Yet patients are supposed to be forgiving because the very important doctor cancels on them at the last minute.
When I think of other appointments with financial planners, accountants, interior decorators, lawyers, etc., no one treats you as poorly as a doctor's office does. I know my accountant never has an emergency appendectomy to perform, but I also know that if he had fallen behind his schedule (perhaps a couple clients with problems bigger than 30 minutes allotted), he would apologize profusely and his secretary would tell me when he's going to be available. A doctor's office frequently has a receptionist who won't tell you when you will be able to go back, and you're supposed to understand that being behind schedule is normal.
Doctors' schedules are busy, but so are the patients'. I have to allow 2 hours for a 15 minute doctor visit. I believe there are solutions that doctors could implement to reduce patient wait time. Problem is, there's no incentive for doctors to do this. They could book less patients. I'm sure someone could develop automated software to allow patients to check a live appointment schedule to see if they can put off leaving for their appt for an hour. But, doctors have no incentive to do this. They make the same money and more if they overbook. They don't have to provide good customer service. Your insurance company tells you what doctors you CAN see, and the next guy is probably just as bad. . .
Here's one example of what I've seen. I was at a therapy appt for my son, and there was a woman waiting for an appt with her doctor. The doctor was on a conference call and her appt was a 30 minutes late. He did do something unusual and personally came to the lobby to apologize for the wait and tell her it was going to be a while longer. Still, a conference call took precedence over a patient? Sounds like a real "emergency." I don't know what it was about of course, but I also have important meetings and conference calls at my job. If I kept an engineering client waiting for 30 minutes in the lobby, 1.) my boss would chew my ass, and 2.) the client would likely find another engineer.
Sorry for my unscientifically verified rant. I know there are some really fab doctors and staff out there, but my personal experience is that no matter how great the doctor is in that 15 minutes of office care, the rest of the experience is pretty lousy.
I think better interaction with patients for you starts with doctors in general giving a little more respect to patients time and schedule first.