Cut Down Wait Times at the Doctor’s Office

If it feels like you spend the whole day waiting when you’ve got a doctor’s appointment, you’re not alone. In a fast-paced world, it can be hard to sit back and wait — especially when your health is concerned.

Here are some tips that can help cut down on your wait times when you have a doctor’s appointment.

  • Be prepared beforehand. Have your medical history (it may be easier to have your history written out before you go), copies of test results and discharge information from other doctors, and a current medication list. Bringing x-rays and other test results can help save time because your doctor won’t need to hunt them down AFTER your visit (and have you come in again for a follow-up).
  • Does your insurance company require a referral? Many providers do need a referral BEFORE you see a specialist. Make sure the referral has the right date and other important info — like what tests are approved.
  • Write down any questions you want to ask the doctor. There’s something about sitting on the exam table (and sometimes shivering in a hospital gown) that makes me forget at least half the things I wanted to ask. Having your questions written down means you’ll get answers to all of them.
  • When you call for an appointment, try to pick a time in the early morning (near opening) or early afternoon (right after lunch). Things tend to run more on time at the beginning of the shift. (There are always exceptions, though.)
  • When you call for an appointment, be honest about what you need to see the doctor for. Don’t just mention one thing to the receptionist and then surprise the doctor with three more once you’re at the office. They may want to schedule more time for you if you have multiple issues! (This will help keep things on time for the appointments after yours, too.)
  • On the day of your appointment, try calling a few hours before to see if things are running on time. Ask the staff if arriving at another time (either earlier or later) would be helpful.
  • On the day of your appointment, show up a few minutes ahead of your actual appointment time — just in case you need to fill out any paperwork, intake forms, or insurance forms.

One last thing — do try to be understanding. Emergencies can come up that throw off the day’s schedule. Some scheduled appointments take longer than expected. And nobody’s perfect — scheduling mistakes do happen. If you’re really unhappy with the wait, you can mention it to the office manager or even your doctor.

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