In yesterday‘s blog post, " ‘We'll Be Right With You‘...How Much Longer Do I Have To Wait Before I Can Bill My Doctor For Wasted Time?" I brought your attention to the actions of a very clever woman out of Everett, Washington, Elaine Farstad. After waiting almost two hours past her scheduled appointment time to see her doctor, she came up with the great idea to bill her doctor for the time she waited. As a follow-up piece to that blog, I decided to create a tip sheet on the top five ways that you can reduce your time in your doctor's waiting room. Try them out and feel free to let me know how they worked!
If you missed yesterday's blog, check it out at http://www.protectingpatientrights.com/blog/well-be-right-with-you-how-much-longer-do-i-have-to-wait-before-i-can-bill-my-doctor-for-wasted.cfm.
The Top Five Ways To Reduce Your Time in Your Doctor's Waiting Room
1. Send Your Doctor A Bill
Elaine Farstad of Everett, Washington sent her doctor a bill after waiting for almost two hours past her scheduled appointment time. Her doctor responded by sending her the full amount that she requested! In order to calculate the amount that your bill should be, use Farstad's method: determine what your salary per hour would be and multiply that number by the amount of time that you were forced to wait past your scheduled appointment time. While your doctor may not respond by sending you the money you requested, the bill may be just the wake up call that he or she needs to improve their office wait time.
2. Research Your Doctor
Hop on your computer and do a little research to find out what doctors in your area are known for their punctuality. There are a number of sites that allow patients to rate their doctors and give reviews of their services, such as www.ratemds.com, www.healthgrades.com, www.vitals.com, or even www.angieslist.com.
However, keep in mind that it may not always be possible to find an alternative doctor in your area if they practice an extremely specialized practice area or you live in a smaller geographical area. It may also be impossible to reduce your wait time if you decide to go to a doctor that is in high demand. In this case, make sure that you are prepared before going to the doctor for a long wait. This will make waiting a lot less stressful and much more pleasant. Make sure to bring a snack and a drink with you to ward of feeling cranky from hunger and bring along something to keep you occupied such as a book or a magazine. Don't schedule anything important right after your doctor‘s visit, such as a work appointment, so that you won't have to worry about being late or rushed. Lastly, try and wear some comfortable clothes to the office if possible so that you don't have to spend an hour sitting in overly tight jeans or uncomfortable shoes while you wait. Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference in how unpleasant your time in the waiting room is!
3. Schedule Wisely
Try to schedule your appointment at a time where there is less likely to be a back up of patient waiting to be seen, such as in the early morning or after lunch. Avoid scheduling appointments with doctors that see a lot of child patients, such as pediatricians on school holidays or late afternoon, as the office is more likely to be busy. When you schedule your appointment, ask the receptionist if there is a date or time where patients are typically scheduled less often and if possible, try and book these dates as far in advance as possible.
4. Blog About Your Experiences
If you experience an unbearably long wait time in your doctor's office, blog about your experience on a physician rating site or through a popular blogging service. It is not uncommon for physician's offices to check these sites to see their ratings and the comments that their patients are posting. In some cases, patients that have blogged about long wait times in their physician's office have been apologized to by their physician or their physician office's human resources manager.
5. Communicate Your Experience To Your Doctor
Although this might be the most obvious tip I have for you, try telling your doctor or the receptionist that you have had to wait an unreasonable amount of time at his or her office. That may be all that it takes to have him or her to make a change. It's possible that your physician is unaware of how long each patient is waiting or that the wait time is becoming unreasonable. You may also find out from this conversation the a reason for the long wait. Perhaps your doctor had to rush out of the office due to an emergency and the receptionist forgot to relay that information to you. Or perhaps you might just find out that your doctor doesn't care that he or she is constantly tardy. In that case, it might just be time to find a new doctor.