Why patients wait so long in the doctor’s office

It’s a fee-for-service world with declining reimbursements. You do the math:

If a doctor sees 25 patients a day, the first 15 visits are just covering his overhead expense. If a patient fails to keep an appointment, in spite of a confirmation, then the office finances will be decreased.

Therefore, the physician tries to see as many patients as he or she can during the day. This is overwhelming for the doctor, as well as the patients.

In spite of the increasing costs associated with employee expenses, increased staffing and medical malpractice premiums, the reimbursement continues to decrease.

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  • Anonymous

    Once again we find that you can not have fast service, quality care, and low fees. Today low fees rule for third party reimbursed services and one or other of the other values must suffer to an ever greater degree.

    What about the physician whose practice values are quality AND service. He must determine (like every other professional and business) what price he must charge in order to provide the quality and service that meets his standards and satisfies his patients–and then figure out what fee he must charge to do that. Third party contracts are incompatible with that process, so the medical market place necessarily stratifies between high quality/ responsive service providers on the one hand and low cost providers that compromise at least one of these values on the other.

  • Anonymous

    Fast,cheap,good: pick two.

  • Anonymous

    I do know that you guys tell us all the time that running a physicians practice is the same as running any other business.

    I own a business. If one of you call me for an appointment, and my office girl tells you that I can see you at 1:00PM on a Tuesday, are you going to still be sitting in my waiting room at 3:15PM when I can finally get to you?

    You forget that most often we dont just walk in off the street to see you. We have called and shown up at the time YOUR employees tell us to come. They have told us that you can see us at this time on this day and when it is 2-3 hours later and I am still in your waiting room there is something wrong with how you run your business. When you schedule 3 of us for the same exact time. (we know you do this because we have asked the other patients that are also waiting) do you think you are a magician? Or are you just money hungry and have no concern for how long your patients wait?

  • Anonymous

    To Anon. 2:56 A.M.:

    We do run a business. But unlike other businesses, we don’t get to charge what we want to do our business the way we would like. If I did consulting or accounting, I either charge someone for the hour they spend with me, assuming their problem needs that amount of time, or I do something else. In medicine, the patient who has an hour’s worth of concerns, and needs an hour of my time, brings a Medicare card or a managed-care insurance card that says I only get paid for a half an hour. And the law says that even if I don’t take the direct payment from Medicare, I can only charge fifteen percent more than the Medicare rate, which does not pay me for my hour’s time either.

    So I have to cut corners anywhere I can. One thing I can do is to pack the schedule. Another is to restrict how many Medicare patients I will allow to enroll in my practice panel at any given time. Another is to stop seeing patients whose insurance companies give me a hard time about payment.

    So someone shows up with a little problem and proceeds to unpack a big problem. In other businesses, they are just told to stop or prepare to pay more. We can’t do that. Patients expect us to accommodate them no matter how little their insurers or the Government offer. And please don’t give me the free market spiel: very, very few patients will pay what it really costs to go to a doctor where is a schedule light enough to not have a wait. They will bitch like hell, but they won’t pay one penny for better service. So to them I suggest they shut up and enjoy what they have paid for, because they have not paid nor do they deserve to enjoy anything better.

  • Anonymous

    No one should have to wait more than 15 minutes for a doctor. I was in the doctor’s office where there were 3 doctors there. Sure it was my first time there, sure I had a appointment. I made it there on time and told them I was a new patient. It took a half an hour for them to give me the paperwork for myself and over an hour to see the doctor. How unprofessional!!
    My time is worth something too. Yes, I wrote the office of their non-caring, unprofessional, and I felt a waste of my time. May all doctors be aware of who they are hiring and servicing the front office. (I have been employed by a doctor and NO patients waited more than 15 mins) Remember doctor this is a busy world with busy people.

  • Anonymous

    I waited for over 45 min. to see a Nurse Practitioner and mind you I have the best insurance. I asked the front desk what was taking so long and of course they were backed up. I was there early and 3 women who I was there before were seen first to see their M.D. I like how the Medicade/Medicare patients are seen first, for in my mind since they are supported by the Governement, they should be seen by the Nurse practionioner and should be the ones WAITING longer! Sorry!

  • gopher

    I had a situation today where I was in the waiting room a short amount of time, maybe 10 minutes – then the nurse showed me into the doctor’s office and said “He has one more patient, he will be here shortly.” I had to sit there an hour and 10 minutes before I got fed up and walked out. But it wasnt the waiting, it was the disrespect and lack of common courtesy. I expected to wait – **in the waiting room** – there is tv, there are magazines – they showed me into a little room with nothing to do and expected me to sit there for an hour? She said he had one other patient. That takes an hour? It is a matter of courtesy – if he was delayed, then she needed to come in and say, “sorry it is taking so long, here is why…” but nobody said anything to me until more than an hour of waiting in a small room – nobody would be complaining as much about this stuff if people just used a little common courtesy. You should give people an idea how long they are going to have to wait. You should let them know if you are delayed and you should apologize or explain – just show a little humility. None of this costs a dime. Not a dime. But the people in the office all were rude and disrespectful. I saw the doctor in the hall because I went outside to look at the clock, and he gave no indication that he was sorry about making me wait an hour. So I am thinking — “This guy is a jerk. He doesn’t even have any common decency. How am I going to expect him to care about me or my problem? I don’t even feel like talking to this jerk about my problem.” These people are rude jerks for one reason: because they can get away with it. People being what they are, that will never change.

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