Have you ever left work early and rushed through traffic to get to a doctor’s appointment, only to sit in the waiting room for an hour before being seen? Annoying, right? While most doctors try to stay on time, emergencies can happen, and some offices are just disorganized. However, with some advance planning, you can cut the waiting time. Here’s my advice for upping the odds that you’ll be seen on time at your next appointment:
Ask for the first appointment of the day. Many offices get further behind as the day goes by, so earlier appointments are more likely to be on time. If the office closes for lunch, ask for the first appointment after lunch.
Be specific when making your appointment. Give the receptionist as much information as possible, so he or she can schedule sufficient time. If any tests or procedures need to be done, you may have to wait while supplies are gathered or while a room is readied. If you don’t notify the staff ahead of time, you’ll wait even longer.
Fill out paperwork ahead of time, have your insurance and ID cards ready, and get there early. Ask the office to e-mail, mail, or fax you any paperwork ahead of time. If your appointment is at 9 am and you’re just pulling into the parking lot at 9, by the time you find the office, fill out paperwork, fish out your insurance and ID cards, and the receptionist enters your info into the computer, it could be 9:30. By then, the doctor’s already half an hour behind. Some offices double-book patients, so if you turn in your paperwork early, chances are you’ll be seen first.
Call for updates. Before you leave for your appointment, call the office and ask if they’re running on time. If not, ask how far behind they are. That way you can choose to reschedule or do an errand along the way.