Five Ways to Reduce Your Wait Time at the Doctor's Office

When it comes to seeing your doctor, it can be tough for patients to have much, well, patience. You set an appointment weeks in advance, but often get stuck in the waiting room watching the clock hands move without hearing your name called. Last year, the average wait time to see a doctor was 19 minutes and 16 seconds. The good news is that wait times are getting shorter (in 2013 the average wait time was more than 20 minutes), but it’s still a long time to sit in a waiting room browsing old magazines.

It may seem like you are at the mercy of the receptionist, but there are things you can do that may actually get you seen more promptly:

  • Be on time. Yes, it sounds simple but this is the number one thing you can do to make sure you are seen in a timely manner. For many doctor’s offices, if you are not there on time, they will skip over your appointment and go onto the next one.
  • Fill out paperwork beforehand and come prepared with all of the necessary information. In many cases, doctor’s offices will email over paperwork before your appointment, so review and fill out the pages prior to arriving at the office.
  • Pick the right day of the week. Tuesdays and Thursdays typically see the longest wait times, accordingly to ZocDoc.com, an online booking site. Mondays are the day of the week that sees the shortest in-office waits.
  • Go early. Appointments in the beginning of the day typically have a shorter wait, according to Mitch Rothschild, chief executive of Vitals.com. Because unexpected appointments and unplanned emergencies com up throughout the day, it’s best to avoid later afternoon appointment times if possible.
  • Chat with the receptionist. Some doctor’s offices do something called “wave scheduling,” meaning they have a handful of patients all scheduled for the same time and take those patients in order of arrival. If your doctor does this, show up before your scheduled time so you are the first in your wave.

For other ways to make doctor’s appointments run more smoothly, check out these blogs from this site as well as A Healthier Michigan:

Photo credit: frances1972

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