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Waiting, Waiting and Waiting ... Why Oh Why Do I Wait So Long At The Doctor's Office?

The Huffington Post—March 10, 2010

By Helene Pavlov, M.D., FACR, Radiologist-in-Chief at Hospital for Special Surgery

The national average wait time in a doctor’s waiting room before an appointment in 2009 was at 21.3 minutes, up considerably from 2002, when it was 18.4 minutes and 1989, when it was 15.9 minutes. So why the long wait and why are we trending up?

As a doctor (and also a patient that has had to endure prolonged time in waiting rooms) I thought I could shed some light on this subject. What is most important for patients to understand is that every visit to the doctor is different. One patient will come in with a cold, another with a sprained ankle, or possibly a head injury. Every doctor needs to be prepared for just about any condition and different patients' personality. Many patients have questions and sometimes the doctor discovers other issues that need to be addressed.

At Hospital for Special Surgery Department of Radiology and Imaging we have taken steps to reduce the amount of time our patients have to wait. We recently implemented a pre-visit registration system. A day or two before a patient arrives one of our registrars call the patients and collects important information such as insurance demographics, etc. This has helped to reduce patient wait time and increase throughput.

Next time you are scheduling a doctor's appointment, ask if the doctor usually runs on time or late and if so, by how long. Speak to the doctor about the wait time if excessive.

Get more wait time tips and read the full story at huffingtonpost.com.


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