A doctor’s time vs a patient’s time: which is more valuable?

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You call the clinic to make an appointment:  “Your appointment is at 11:30 a.m. but you need to check in early at 11:15.”  I always obey and I always arrive at least 15 minutes early.

Yesterday I was ushered into the exam room a wee bit early, 11:20 a.m., but I didn’t mind waiting in that room for the start of my 11:30 appointment.  At 11:35 I heard my doctor enter the room next to mine and greet her patient.  “Huh,” I said to no one in particular.

Clock running late CShe concluded that appointment at 11:50, then I heard her make two consecutive telephone calls in the “Staff Only” portion of the area.  “Huh!” I said again, this time with emphasis.

At 11:55, she started yet another call.  I slapped my knee, and because I was in my street clothes, I walked out of the exam room, entered the “Staff Only” area and stood in front of her.  She concluded her call and walked with me into the exam room.  “Sorry, I had to make a few calls.”

“I’m just wondering, do the schedulers overbook the appointments?  My appointment was for a half hour ago.”

I honestly don’t think doctors are aware of the appointment times, they merely walk down the hallway going to the next room in the chronological order in which the medical assistant places the files.  My doctor apologized and stated she was not aware that she was so far behind.  She explained that some patients need a little more talking-time so she tries to accommodate their need.

Sad crying faceAnd I get that, because sometimes I need a bit more talking-time, just as I did yesterday.  So what can be done?

There seems to be only one solution over which I have control.

From now on, I will not arrive 15 minutes early for my appointment.  Even if my doctor runs late, at least I won’t be spending as much time at the front-end of the appointment as I will no doubt spend at the middle and back-end of it.

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3 thoughts on “A doctor’s time vs a patient’s time: which is more valuable?

    Lauren said:
    December 2, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Most times I visit my dr happen to be the days he is the emergency Dr which is unfortunate. This means waiting for over an hour in most cases!!! Appointment is usually over in 5 – 8 mins. When you’re in need of help or advice, or you’re really feeling rotten these waiting times and rushed appointments almost appear not worth it. Such a shame the drs aren’t always aware of the appointment crisis!

    Mike Good said:
    December 2, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I walked out of my dentist office recently because I could hear him chatting with one of his colleagues about non-work related stuff. In my case, visiting with him was not that important so no loss on my part. But when someone needs help or their loved on is struggling with Alzheimer’s or a similar disease, I think their time is more valuable than the Dr’s. The office needs to have trained coordinator to help keep harmony.

      boomer98053 responded:
      December 2, 2014 at 9:24 am

      I applaud you for walking out of your dentist’s office.
      I think this “timely” issue will only get worse with the advent of universal health coverage, of which I am not opposed. With regards to primary care/family medicine, there is a severe shortage that will continue to affect patients’ visit. It will take weeks to get an appointment; heck it already does. (If the need is one that can not or should not wait, I take which ever doctor can see me the quickest.)
      If a patient’s need is an acute one, our emergency rooms will again become the clinic of choice. And, as expressed in my article, customer service will continue to decline at medical clinics.

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