The average wait time at doctors’ offices in the United States is 24 minutes, according to a report released in 2010 by Press Ganey, a group that researches health care performance. Unfortunately, some wait times can be as much as an hour or more! Yesterday, I read an article featuring patients that are actually starting to bill their doctors for their wasted time! Elaine Farstad, in particular, waited over 2 hrs for her doctor! She said “If you waste my time, you’ve bought my time!”. She billed her doctor….and actually received $100 check from him- the full amount she requested! This trend is catching on as some doctors are actually giving gifts from $5 bills to $50 credits, for causing their patients to wait past their set appointment time…I guess my doctors are behind the trend here…..hopefully they will read this and catch on! All things aside, it’s not fun to waste your time (and prolong your recovery), waiting in your physician’s office, Urgent Care, or the ER.
Here are the grim facts about wait time:
· The longer an ill patient has to wait to see a doctor, the greater the chance their sickness will worsen.
· Wait times places patients’ health at risk and costs hospitals, insurers and patients more in resources and dollars.
· Doctors overbook patients. Overbooking is usually deliberate because doctors are paid by volume under many health insurance reimbursement systems.
· Increased demand – the number of patients seeking ER care jumped 26 percent to 114 million in the last few years.
· Doctor shortages especially in rural areas and certain types of specialties.
· Hospitals closing the Emergency Room – the number of U.S. emergency departments fell about 12 percent in the last few years. Patients will need to make a decision to go to a nearby doctor or travel a long distance to find an available emergency room.
· Number of Urgent Care Centers in the U.S. – approximately 8,700
Urgent care centers grew by approximately 330 from 2008-2009 and 304 from 2009-2010
(note, approximate number of EDs in the U.S. is 4,600 – source: AHA Trendwatch Sourcebook 2008)
· Patient Visits: The average number of visits per week increased to 342
· Schedule your appointments after your doctor’s lunch break. Usually they are all caught up prior to taking a break, and you have less of a chance to be a backlogged appointment.
· Ask the doctor’s office to send you any paperwork to complete via email or mail prior to your appointment. When you schedule your time, tell them that you will have the paperwork filled out already for them when you arrive. Often they schedule 30 minutes just for you to handle documents.
· If it’s just a normal daily health issue you need to resolve (such as allergies, flu, rash, head ache, cold, pink eye, mild aches and pains, etc….) then use technology to interact and interface with doctors. 78% of all Urgent Care, Emergency Room and Physician visits could have been handled over the phone (American Medical Association.) If more people utilized telemedicine, then waiting rooms and doctors would be more available to service clients with more serious needs. Visit. www.Telemed365.com for more information on Telemedicine.