By Mark W. Danielson
Here’s an oxymoron for you: “Doctor’s appointment”. You see, when used in a normal sentence, these two words would imply that you and the doctor have both agreed to meet at a specific time. It’s such a simple thing, setting appointments, and when the time is set, all is fine. Sadly, this oxymoron doesn’t become apparent until you’re sitting there at your appointed time, waiting to be seen. Mind you, this revelation came to me not suddenly, but over the course of umpteen years of waiting for doctors, and when I think of the amount of time I’ve lost, it’s enough to send me to the emergency room. Hold on—there’s a wait there, too! In fact, even if you’re checked into a hospital, you have to wait—perhaps even longer because they know you can’t walk out on them.
These days, there is a lot of political rhetoric about medical reform, and it will be interesting to see whether things actually improve, or whether you should bring your camping gear along to make your indefinite wait more tolerable. (Ever wonder why they call it a Waiting Room?) Anyway, I’ve been a product of socialized medicine before, and I assure you—government care isn’t the best. But if you think socialized medicine is bad, consider what it’s like to have a socialized dental plan. (If you’re not convinced that free enterprise is better, check out some of the socialized smiles walking around.)
So here’s what I propose to ensure better private practice medical care. (Bear in mind, I’m making the assumption that people can be held accountable for their actions.) First, make sure you check in with the receptionist at the required time, then have he/she initial the time sheet you brought, and politely wait for your appointment. Jot the time down when the doctor actually shows up in your room, and at the end of your visit, politely request the receptionist initial your time sheet, and then present your bill for the time you spent waiting. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Mind you, you cannot charge the doctor for the time he or she spends with you; only the time you spent waiting for the doctor to show. (By the way, your charges must be based upon your current salary. Bringing supporting documentation may prove useful.) Remember, this is a business arrangement between you, the patient, and the doctor.
This business proposal is sure to bring about its doubters. Some will whine that doctors should spend as much time as necessary with their patients, and this is a valid point, but if every doctor were to schedule their appointments based on a reasonable time allotment, no patients would be waiting for more than a couple of minutes. Of course, then the doctor would have to change the office signs from Waiting Room to Reception Area, and that would cost money. Then again, with socialized medicine, they’ll have to change it from Waiting Room to Dormitory, so either way, sign changes will be necessary.
Since it will take a while for my plan to be universally accepted, I suppose the patients will just have to be patient, (hence the name) and find ways to occupy their time. Cell phones are out of the question, so may I suggest bringing your laptop and a snack? That way you can write a book while saving yourself a coronary.