Blog | Monday, July 11, 2011

QD: News Every Day--But wait! I wasn't ready for you yet.

Patients are starting to bill doctors for making them wait, reports CNN.

"When he keeps patients waiting more than 15 minutes, Dr. Timothy Malia, a primary care physician in Fairport, New York, hands them a $5 bill. If patients in Eugene, Oregon, wait more than 10 minutes to see Dr. Pamela Wible, they receive a handmade soap or a bottle of lotion. When Dr. Cyrus Peikari, an internist in Dallas, recently had to miss a day of work because of a family emergency, he gave the patients whose appointments he canceled $50 at their next appointment."

I've been kept waiting at doctors' offices. I've been kept waiting as pharma reps walked past a full waiting room bearing plates of food. But I've also been kept waiting as doctors have handled other patients, undoubtedly more complex cases than mine.

Practice administrator and blogger Brandon Betancourt sums up the point nicely, and further extends the idea to every delay faced in life, such as toll booths on turpikes tied up with traffic.

I've also been squeezed into the schedule for emergency appointments, undoubtedly making someone else wait. And I've also been treated by phone on nights, weekends and holidays, and I'm not so sure that my primary care physician gets reimbursed for that.

So, kudos to those few physicians who respect their patients' busy schedules enough to reward them. But I'm willing to give physicians the benefit of the doubt in some cases.

For those doctors with no good excuse, ACP Internist outlined some best practices to alleviate the wait.

There's innovative ways to eliminate the waiting room, as one "Wisconsin clinic’s patients save time by "rooming" themselves."

If you need help with your clinic, a "mystery shopper" recounts first-hand experiences with late doctors and tell them how to "Get time on your side: expert tips to eliminate waiting."

If you find the wait is inevitable, "If you can’t make the wait shorter, make the waiting room nicer."