Think your doctor is rushing you? You might be right—but there are some things you can do to score more one-on-one time.
According to a study done at three Johns Hopkins Medicine clinics, physicians spend more time with their patients when the clinic is running on schedule. But when a patient is late, it throws off the system. As a result, everyone with an appointment scheduled for after that gets his or her time cut.
It’s similar to long lines at the bank, where tellers spend less time with each customer in order to speed up the process to try to get back on track.
But this isn’t a simple financial transaction, it’s your health. And you need all the time you can get.
Get to a clinic earlier
That’s why the researchers advise that patients get to a clinic earlier than the scheduled appointment time. In the study, those who did got nearly 10 minutes more with their doctor than those who were late for the appointment.
Another strategy may be choosing the first appointment time of the day—and being early for that, too—before late patients and delayed doctors begin slowing down the schedule.
And realize that the time crunch isn’t easy on them, either. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons burnout is becoming more and more widespread in healthcare, says Michelle Dossett, M.D., Ph.D, of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Research indicates that a little over half of doctors are burned out,” Dr. Dossett notes. “There’s too much to do and not enough time to process it all.”
Getting organized for your appointment can help ease the strain off your doctor and score you more quality time. Write out your questions beforehand and bring them in with you, along with a timeline of your symptoms, relevant medical history, and any related concerns, she advises. That will streamline the process and make sure you’re not forgetting a valuable point.