Has this ever happened to you? You arrive on time for your doctor’s appointment, but by the time you actually see your doctor, you’ve read every magazine in the waiting room, heard every patient’s life story, and sat in a freezing exam room wearing a paper gown watching the clock tick for two hours. If that describes your last doctor’s appointment, here are a few strategies to keep it from happening again. This comes from CNN, and Dr. L. Gordon Moore from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement:
- Stage a revolt. One woman who waited for two hours to see her gynecologist made a pact with the eight other women in the waiting room, and they all wrote complaint letters. They said she was a terrific doctor, but the long waits were inconvenient and uncomfortable, and they were considering finding another doctor. The result: The staff began calling patients when the doctor had an emergency that could delay an appointment.
- Be a smart scheduler. Dr. Moore recommends booking the first appointment in the morning - or the first appointment after lunch. That way, they won’t be delayed by the patient ahead of you. Also, don’t book an appointment on Monday, when people who have suffered all weekend call to be “squeezed in.” If your doctor sees children, don’t book your appointment on or near a school holiday.
- Don’t wait more than 15 minutes to speak up. Ask the receptionist what’s happening and if you’ve been forgotten. Explain that you might need to reschedule. As they say, money talks, and if you leave, the doctor won’t get paid for your appointment.
- One final way to avoid a long wait for your doctor: Find a new one! Get a recommendation from friends and family for an M.D. who’s good and punctual. Or check out the growing list of patient-friendly doctors at the Ideal Medical Practices Project, which shares tips to help make doctors punctual for patient appointments.