Imagine you have been feeling woozy all weekend and you decide that it’s time to see your doctor. You call and schedule an appointment for Wednesday. Whew. It’s now on your calendar and you are ready to get feeling better.
On Wednesday you arrive for your appointment, check-in and make your way in to see the doctor. Wait! Actually, the average time spent waiting to be seen by a doctor is 21 to 24 minutes in the U.S.
So… you’re back in the waiting room, sitting with others who are patiently waiting to be seen and passing time on their mobile devices or reading an old magazine. Towards the end of the 20 some minutes you begin to frantically compile your thoughts and symptoms that you wanted to tell your doctor… Quick! Try to remember everything you wanted to ask your doctor.
The door opens and the nurse finally calls your name and takes you back to a patient room. The nurse asks you a few questions about why you are there, records your answers, and leaves. You decide to use that time to rehearse what you are going to say.
The doctor walks in, greets you, and attempts to skim your chart. “What brings you in today?” he or she says. You take a deep breath and being explaining your states of wooziness over the weekend when the doctor interrupts you and asks, “How long has this been going on?” You surely didn’t expect to be interrupted and the thoughts you put together in the waiting room have not run their intended course… It took only 18 seconds before you got interrupted but this was enough for you to forget you also had a stomachache last week and you wanted to ask about the new medication you are taking.
Since your time with the doctor, on average, will be seven minutes, you have now waited three-minutes for every one-minute you spent with your doctor and didn’t accomplish everything you wanted to. On your way home you remember the two things you forgot, and you’re upset with yourself. If only you had more information to present, a reminder, or questions laid out, then maybe those seven minutes would have been three times more productive and useful to you.
Have you dealt with these types of frustrations? What tips and tools do you use to effectively communicate during your doctor appointments?