bigstock-hospital-86071250Vow to be an active Participant in the Patient-Doctor Relationship! Here are Five Things You Can Do to Minimize Your Wait...

My brother once called while I was booking an airline ticket during my office hours, when I picked up the phone and he asked what I was doing, I came clean. He quickly replied, "So that's what you are all doing to have us waiting hours to see you." "Well brother," I said, "Think again." This happened to be an unusual day of "No Shows." However there are many reasons why your appointment runs late during your doctor's visit. They key is to be patient, as there is so much more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. Yes, we sometimes run late to the office, or there are many things that can happen during your check in process. However your visit to the office is not just about you... although we would like it to be. Any given day I'm handed a list of patients on my schedule. Some of the visits take 15 minutes, some 45. It is difficult to account for emergencies, or the patient you have to tell she has cancer. The truth is... we can never be quite sure what we are going to encounter when we enter a patient's room, even though there is a designated time YOU are supposed to be seen.

This is just the beginning... But here are a few tips you can do minimize not only YOUR wait time, but the wait time for everyone else on the schedule that day. After all, we are all interconnected somehow!

1. Arrive Early.

Arriving 15-20 minutes early will allow you to check in, update your paperwork, have your insurance verified and give you time to pay your copay. If you arrive just at your scheduled appointment time, just imagine you have all of these tasks to complete before you see your physician. By the time you are placed in a room, you will be well beyond your appointment time. The average patient may take 10-15 minutes to check in (not accounting for your bathroom break). Pretend you are going to see your favorite artist in concert... Would you show up just on time?

2. Make sure you have the proper referral.

Many Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO's) and Medicare plans require referrals or prior authorization. Some require referrals directly from your Priamary Care Doctor. Make sure you have a copy of your referral or authorization. Without it, you may be required to wait until a telephone call is made to your primary doctor to obtain a referral. Not only will this increase our wait time but everyone else's also. If you have trouble holding on to loose pieces of paper, simply call ahead and talk to the new patient coordinator or front office assistant. You can check in to see if everything has been received to make your appointment go smoothly.

3. Confirm your appointment time and date.

Seems simple right? With the changes in Healthcare, many institutions are relying on automated messaging to remind you about your appointment time. Take the time to write down your visit in a foolproof place like your smart phone calendar, or planner. Ultimately your appointment is your responsibility.

4. Complete New Patient Paperwork ahead of time.

This may seem straightforward but you'd be surprised. Most offices have paperwork for all new patients that must be completed. The paperwork ranges from health history intake forms to office policies, and includes forms designed to help protect your privacy and health information required by the Federal Government's Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
It can take up to 30 minutes to complete most paperwork. Most offices have the paperwork you are required to complete on line or they can send it to you via email.

5. Bring an official document with your photo as identification such as a driver's license, State ID, or Passport and your Insurance Card.

This may seem obvious but you would be surprised by the number of patients who arrive for their visit without proper ID or their insurance information.