Aiden starts coughing Wednesday afternoon. Again. His mother, Donna, frowns and goes to find the number to her doctor’s office. The last time her 8 year old started coughing, it developed into bronchitis. His asthma always makes a cold worse and she wants to make sure that does not happen again this time. Donna knows that she is off on Friday and calls Dr. Smith at the Asthma Center, only to find out that there are no appointments on Friday, but she can bring Aiden on Monday. Making a silent wish that Aiden does not get worse over the weekend, she takes the Monday spot.
Pat’s cell phone rings Wednesday afternoon. His friend, Bill, has tickets to the game Friday night in Boston. He wants to leave early to grab some dinner and catch up. However Pat received an appointment reminder from the Asthma Center on his cell. It’s on Friday. Pat shrugs and thinks, “Every time I go to the office, I have to wait. The doctor is so busy he won’t even notice if I don’t show up. Plus, I have been feeling pretty good… it would be a waste of time for me to go and be told that I am fine.” So he goes off to dinner and the game with Bill on Friday.
It may seem as if the doctor’s office is busy; even overbooked, but there is a system in place. The staff work tirelessly to get patients in and seen as quickly as possible. Many things beyond their control can disrupt the flow: lab results never came over, so someone has to call and get them faxed; a patient comes in very sick and needs a treatment; something substantial has changed in a person’s medical history that needs to be evaluated. But when you don’t come for your appointment, or show up late, the organized schedule goes awry.
Here are some tips for working together with your doctor’s office to ensure a positive relationship:
- Asking questions helps create a dialogue between you and your doctors, also letting them know that you are more likely to follow a recommended plan of care. Our office has someone available 24 hours a day. For quick responses directly from your doctor, use our Patient Portal.
- Prepare for your appointment with a written list of what you want to discuss with your most critical concerns first. This helps ensure all your concerns are addressed, and it helps your provider spend time efficiently with all patients.
- Be sure to share how you really feel with your doctor so they can determine what is going on with you. Don’t be afraid to tell the whole truth if you have concerns about your health.
- If you cannot make your appointment for any reason, call ahead to cancel or reschedule your appointment so other patients can be scheduled.
Now let’s go back and see what happens when Pat calls to reschedule. The office staff looks over his chart, and they agree that he can postpone his checkup for a month or two, which opens up that space on the chart. When Donna calls in to ask if Aiden can be seen on Friday, there is an opening, he is given a breathing treatment, put on an antibiotic, and he is able to get his illness under control.