Punishing Doctors Who Make You WaitBy JENNIFER SARANOW SCHULTZ
There’s nothing worse than showing up on time for a doctor’s appointment and then having to wait because the physician is running late.
Because insurers tend to pay a certain amount for each patient doctors see and each procedure they perform rather than for the time spent with a patient, doctors have an incentive to see as many patients as they can and often double-book patients for 10-to-15-minute appointment time slots.
Still, why should you suffer for a flawed business model? And how best to punish doctors who make you wait?
One option is to switch to a doctor who values your time. Patient dissatisfaction with long waits is not lost on physicians, and new practice models are popping up around the country partly in response.
On its Web site, One Medical Group, a practice with five offices in San Francisco and a newly opened one in New York City, promises “same-day appointments and longer, more personalized visits that start on time.”
How does the medical group guarantee on-time appointments? The practice, which charges patients a $199 annual membership fee to join and uses information technology to help manage costs, doesn’t require that patients come in for routine ailments like urinary tract infections. Instead, the medical professionals treat them by e-mail or phone, similar to a new service in Minnesota we wrote about earlier this year. Refills are also done online. Such policies help limit the number of patients coming into the office.