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A 3-Point Solution To Long Waits At The Doctor’s Office

I have an easy solution to a vexing problem in today’s healthcare crisis. A problem so widespread that it’s worth hundreds of words in the Wall Street Journal: Long wait times at the doctor’s office.

But first, before I give my simple, pragmatic, master-of-the-obvious solution, let me say something truthful: I try. I try really hard — to run on time, that is.

I’ve been there myself — a patient in a gown, in a cold room with only big pharma-sponsored propaganda on the walls to stare at.

At the risk of a sounding like a…blogger, let it be said that practicing quality medicine in the current luxury of technology is much more complicated than it used to be. Such complexity devours our most precious treasure: Time with the patient.

For instance:

— In AF, there used to be only digoxin, quinidine and shocks. Currently there are eight different anti-arrhythmic drugs, ablation, pacemakers and even surgery. But the best modality for AF treatment remains constant — an educated and informed patient — and this is nearly always a destroyer of timely schedules.

— In cardiac device therapy, there once was only pacemakers, but now there are defibrillators (ICDs), biventricular pacemakers, and biventricular ICDs. Despite the lengthy guidelines which give the false impression of tidiness, real-life patients are hardly so pliable.

Medical complexity is a chief contributor to long wait times, but the story doesn’t end there. After seeing the patient, the old-school doctor in me still likes the idea of a narrative to the referring doctor — a story told to a dictaphone. All the stickers in charts, EMR checkboxes, and coding buzzwords will never adequately replace the simple narrative of a person’s story.

“Are you complaining, or stating the facts?” 

Enough of the background, on to my easy three-point, fail-safe solution to long waits for the doctor:

1. Bask in the freedom. You are free — all the connected of the world spot you free time when you are at the doctor. Breathe in the freedom of disconnectedness, of peace, of tranquility — the immunity to screen calls. “I was at the doctor when you called.” Ahhhh.

2. If that doesn’t work for you, go for plan B: Try reading a book. Block time to read. To this I say as Napoleon Dynamite said: “Yesssss.”

3. If all else fails pull out the smartphone and crank up #fb or #twitter. Before you know it, the doctor will be interrupting you.


*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

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