Hello Health and Lifestyle VIPs,
It’s Dr. Bernadette, your friendly informative family medicine doctor, with the answers to the million dollar question: Why the long wait time at your doctor’s appointment? You are looking at your watch, pacing back and forth to the front desk and giving the “stare” each time the door opens and your name isn’t called––we see you. There are many factors that influence the length of time spent at your doctor’s visit. Some are not within your control, but there are a few things you can do to shorten what seems like a grueling punishment in the waiting room.
Seven Tips To Decrease Your Waiting Room Time:
- Cancel your appointment within 24 hours. In most physicians’ offices, patients are scheduled every 10 to 15 minutes. But, some time slots are overbooked to accommodate for patients who do not cancel their appointments. This means two to three patients can be scheduled at the same time––you guessed it––if all of the patients show up, you will be waiting. So, please cancel your appointment if you are unable to make it.
- Arrive on time or early. Many patients come to their doctor’s visit 10 to 15 minutes after their scheduled appointment. An additional few minutes here and there can lead to the doctor becoming further and further behind in their schedule; therefore, you will be hanging out in the waiting room.
- Bring insurance information to every appointment. Insurance information changes and sometimes the changes are subtle, but can result in billing problems––like you receiving the bill. Having your insurance card is a part of being prepared for your visit and not having it can cause delays or require you to reschedule.
- Avoid the laundry lists of concerns. Remember, the doctor’s appointment is generally 15 minutes. Trying to get ALL your questions answered during one visit is usually not possible and can result in frustration for you and the doctor. Do share your list of concerns; however, focus on the most important two to three. It only takes a few appointments to extend beyond their scheduled time before patients are camped out in the waiting room.
- Stay Focused. This may speed things up. For each medical problem, be able to briefly describe the symptoms including when they started, provide a list of medications you have taken or self-help regimens you have tried which improves the condition, report activities that make the symptoms worse and give a short history about similar health problems in the past. In addition, answer the questions being ask by the doctor. Refrain from long stories unrelated to the current issue––do not forget there is another patient after you.
- Be prepared. Know what you need and inform the medical assistant in the examination room. This allows tests such as EKGs to be completed and reviewed by the doctor prior to seeing you––believe it or not this saves time. Also, bring all of your medications bottles. Yes, the medications are listed in your chart. But, it is always best to review the bottles at each visit to confirm doses and directions as well as to update your records with any new medications that have been added by medical specialists.
- Show compassion, emergencies happen. Unfortunately, there are some unscheduled health emergencies which occur that are beyond the doctor’s control and cannot be disregard to simply stay on schedule. Sometimes, patients request appointments for what is thought to be a simple problem, but turns out to be a serious medical issue that involves more time––sorry, but the same care will be extended to you.
Why the long wait time at your doctor’s appointment? That’s the million dollar question. Hopefully, these seven tips can cut some time off your wait and your next doctor’s visit will be a more positive experience. I will have a new blog post ready next Thursday and do share, share, share them with friends.
In Health, Healing and Happiness,
Bernadette Anderson, M.D., M.P.H. has devoted the past 20 years to developing, teaching and educating others on the principles of health and lifestyle transformation. Her approach is to provide simple tools to allow people to be champions of their own healing, health and happiness and transition to a life of purpose and passion. These are the same tools that helped her drop over 140 pounds! She is the founder of Faith Family Health, Inc., a speaker, a health expert for media, bestselling and international published author, has appeared on national commercials and featured in highly-recognized online magazines.Visit her at DrBernadetteMD.com.