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Why Such a Lengthy Wait?

Patients are frequently frustrated that they make an appointment for a particular time, they get there on time, yet they are kept in the waiting room for too prolonged a time before they see the doctor.

When we fully grasp why this comes about, we can take measures to change it, or make it a lot easier to tolerate.

Like too many concerns in healthcare, the answer to why we are kept in the waiting room for so long is, “follow the money. ”

Doctors are paid by insurance and Medicare for every patient they see according to why they see the patient, and what procedures they execute for the patient, and (this is key) not by the quantity of time they spend with the affected person.

Since their goal is to maximize their revenue, they will schedule as many clients into their day as feasible. More patients plus more treatments equates to more income.

In any given day, they might not be positive what services they’ll be carrying out for specific patients, and some patients need more time for their services than others. Equipment may stop working. An obstetrician may be delivering a newborn. There may also be emergencies.

We lose our patience because we believe the time just has not been scheduled effectively. Realizing that it’s the level of patients and procedures, not the time spent per patient, that comprises a doctors’ cash flow, it’s a lot easier to fully grasp why they get so far behind, and why we are kept waiting.

What Is a Reasonable Amount of Time to Wait?

An appropriate amount of time to wait will vary by doctor and the type of practice she owns. In general, the more specialized the doctor, the more patient you may need to be. The fewer doctors in any given specialty who practice in your geographical area, the more time you’ll have to wait, too.

If you pay a visit to an internist who consistently makes you wait an hour, that is too much time. If you find a brain surgeon who makes you wait an hour, that may not be unusual.The fair wait time will also depend on the relationship you have with your doctor. If you have been a patient for many years, and the doctor typically sees you within a few minutes, but one day that extends to a half-hour, then you understand it’s uncommon. Try to be patient (so to speak. )

To Decrease the Time You Expend in a Doctor’s Waiting Room

Attempt to get the earliest appointment in the early morning, or the first appointment after lunch. During each of those times you’ll steer clear of a backed up group of individuals and you have a greater possibility of spending less time in the waiting room.

When you make your appointment, inquire which day of the week is the least heavy scheduling day. Fewer patients on that day will ideally mean reduced wait times.

When you book your visit, make certain the doctor won’t just be coming back from a holiday or conference, or a span of time out of the workplace.

If the doctor sees children as clients, then try not to book your appointment on a school holiday.

If possible, avoid Saturdays or evenings.

When you get to the office for your appointment:

Ask the person at the check-in desk how long she thinks you’ll be waiting. Then make a decision whether you want to wait that long; whether or not seeing that physician is worth that wait. If not, then reschedule, or….
… if she informs you the wait will be 15 minutes, then speak up on minute 16. The squeaky wheel does get the grease. You don’t have to be obnoxious or demanding, but being firm and clear is fair. Politely ask what the hold up is, and how much longer you’ll need to wait.

Again, determine whether the wait time is acceptable.
If the wait time you’ve encountered or you anticipate is unacceptable, then locate a physician that doesn’t make patients wait so long. This is feasible for a primary care doctor or a specialist you see on a regular basis for a long-term or chronic condition. A change in doctors may transform your need to wait. This may not be achievable for a sub-specialist or a physician who is in great demand. Again, you’ll have to determine if that specific physician is worth the wait. You might have no choice.

Prepare For a Long Wait

Your wait time will be less stress filled if you are prepared to wait.

Leave yourself plenty of time. Don’t generate more stress for yourself by scheduling something else right on the heels of your visit. If the children have to be picked up from school at 3: 00, then schedule something that morning, not in the afternoon. If you have a 10 AM meeting, you may not want to schedule an appointment in advance.

Take a good book, your knitting, a hand-held video game — something to pass the time.

Catch up on those letters you’ve been meaning to write.

Expect the appointment in total, wait time included, to last far longer than you assume it will. If it’s shorter, then you’ll be happilly surprised. But if you account for a longer interval of time, in advance of time, then it won’t be so annoying to wait.

T. Torrey; about. com; 11/14/2008