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Two things are guaranteed to occur when you visit your doctor’s office – you will receive a bill and you will wait.
A recent report finds patients spend an average of 22 minutes waiting to see their health-care provider but some waits can last for hours. The longest wait times were for orthopedists (29 minutes) and the shortest wait times were for dermatologist (20 minutes).
The reasons for the increase in wait time can be blamed on both patients and doctors' office. Many offices overbook patients trying to jam as many patients as possible but there are also times when unexpected complex cases show up. (Then there are the calls from insurance companies but we will save that for another column.)
Also, patients will make brief appointments but then show up with lots of questions they want answered or maybe they'll even bring extra people to the appointment.
Besides waiting and thumbing through old magazines, rescheduling your appointment or frantically working your cell phone, here are some tips to avoid waiting in your doctor’s office:
• Ask for the first appointment of the day or the one right after lunch.
• The best days for appointments are Tuesdays and Thursdays (they tend to be the slowest). Mondays and Fridays are the busiest.
• Never make an appointment right after your doctor comes back from a conference or vacation; The first three days after they return tend to be busy. If you can, wait a few days to schedule your appointment.
• Reduce wait times on the day of the appointment by calling ahead to ask if the doctor is running on time.
• When you get to the office ask about the wait time and when that time passes, ask again.
• Making sure you have adequate time for your appointment. If you've got a list of questions and a 15 minute appointment, you might want to ask for a longer appointment.
• See if your issue can be handled via phone, email or video chat.
• Complete registration forms and other paperwork in advance, via computer or mail.
• See if your doctor’s office allows you to schedule your own visits online, which can minimize overbooking and make patients more aware of a doctor’s time constraints.