What's the biggest gripe about docs? Old magazines? How much they charge?Actually, it is how long we make patients wait in the office. Here's the rule: If the patient waits less than 20 minutes, she will underestimate the amount of time she has waited, but if it's more than 20 minutes, the perceived wait is much greater than the actual waiting time.So, what can you do to minimize your waiting time? Ask for the first appointment in the morning or afternoon if it will work for you. Most physicians start their office hours on time and then get progressively behind as the day wears on.When you call for your appointment, let the receptionist know if you need extra time. A lump in your breast or needing to talk about your teenager's acting out is going to take more time than a sore throat. If you request extra time up front, you are much more likely to get your needs met.Avoid the "Yellow Ticket" phenomenon, that is telling the receptionist your problem is a changing mole (a socially "safe" concern) when you are really worried about rectal bleeding or suicidal feelings (more painful to report). Many of us are reluctant to reveal our personal or private concerns to an unknown receptionist, yet stating our real concerns will save precious time when we arrive at the office. It allows the physician's staff to prepare for the visit... disrobing, eye exam, urine test prior to seeing the physician. More importantly, it avoids the time wasted for the doc to sort out that you really aren't worried about that mole after all.Finally, many problems do not need an office visit. Most primary care physicians spend a significant part of their working days communicating with patients about their concerns via telephone, emails or patient portals (web-based practice tools). If you are not sure you need to be seen, call and ask.Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.
MOHLER: Making appointments: How to get what you need from your physician
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