Actually, we should admit it, too.
One of the biggest frustrations in health care is getting an appointment with your doctor — it seems like more often than not, the office is chaos: crowded, loud, and hurried.
And even if you don’t have a big time issue, the aggravation of whats supposed to be a place of health and wellness is enough to give you… and a lot of others, a nice case of white coat hypertension. In fact, I think a lot of those high BP numbers we see aren’t so much from you being nervous in the office, it’s the hassle of getting back to the exam room.
It’s even happened to me. Not too long ago, I had to go in and have a follow-up for an eye injury with my friendly ophthalmologist. I got there early. I filled out the same paperwork I had filled out less than one month before. I was asked for my co-pay three times. I stood in the corner since all of the seats were taken. Then waited 55 minutes past my appointment time. (Not bad these days.) Then waited in the exam room for another 45 minutes for what seemed like a 2 second visit. All this followed by a 20 minute wait for test results to be copied so I could have personal records to take home and put in my own file. Then was asked for my co-pay again.
I decided to stop in the men’s room before the long ride home … all of the time growling about “doctors” in a seething tone, until I looked in the mirror and saw one of those “doctors” staring back at me.
All I could think was how I must make people crazy as they wait for me, and get more and more frustrated by the increasingly nutty world of health care. I’ve never seen it so bad, and I’ve been at this a long time.
So to get to the point, I later saw a survey of wait times, best days for an appointment, etc, and thought I’d share it.
The generalities may not save either of us, but then again, they might not hurt.
The survey was of more than 10,000 people, and the patterns of their doctor appointments.
Dreaded day of the week for an appointment: Tuesday. It’s the busiest with the longest delays. Don’t know why.
Best day for a last-minute visit: Monday. Seems weird, but Monday has the highest cancellation and no-show rate of any day of the week. If you need something, it might not be a bad idea to give a mid morning call and see if you can scoot in.
Most popular — and hardest to get — appointment slot: 10 a.m. Friday. Second most popular: 2 p.m. Tuesday. And anything at the end of the day.
Shortest wait times: Monday, then Wednesday.
Longest wait times: Tuesday, then Friday.
Biggest delays of the day: often the first hour after an office opens. The first appointments of the day sometimes are late. Then even if they show up on time, it take a few minutes to sign in, then be taken back too a room. 8 AM is soon 8:22.
Best appointment day: Wednesday. Least delays, most availability.
Best office to get an appointment: staggered hours, with some docs staying into the evening for people stuck at work, as well as Saturdays for people who can’t get off work, or have the gall to get sick on a weekend. (I actually heard another doctor say that once.)
All in all, it’s a time battle that’s frustrating on both sides of the stethoscope.
But there’s no question we would all like an office that’s not like a crowded bus terminal: one that’s quieter, roomy, on time,and with a driver (doctor) who has all of the time, and attention, in the world to take care of your healthcare travels.
So think about the above. Yet be prepared to play with your smartphone, or read a magazine from 2004. We can only try to do better.