Poor time management?

I visited a medical specialist this week. I was on time for my appointment, yet I waited an hour to see him. Strange, because when I booked 2 weeks ago, I was told the appointment was first after lunch, so I wouldn’t have to wait too long. Staff were dismissive and rude when I questioned the wait “If you have a problem with it, speak with the doctor”.

There was no apology until he asked what I did for a living, and I told him I was a time management expert.

I KNOW he had 21 patients scheduled in 2 and a half hours. That’s 150 minutes divided by 21 patients equals just 7.14 minutes per patient. No toilet break for him, no time to switch between rooms. No time to really give a patient his full attention, if you ask me.

The consultation was $170 plus another $170 for him to perform an investigative procedure. The whole shebang less than 15 minutes.


So, assuming he works say, 4 days a week (I’m talking 20 hours according to his schedule), he’s charging a min of approx $14.5K a week just for consultations, let alone charges surgeries performed. Of course he has overheads, and he has considerable education, skills and experience.  But should I have to wait? Isn’t that disrespectful of his patients time?

I’m aware double booking is common practice in the medical profession.  But my GP doesn’t do it. Nor does my osteopath or Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor or dentist.

My question to you: is it poor time management?  Or greed?


16 responses to “Poor time management?

  1. This is one of my pet peeves.

    It seems to operate on the assumption that their time is more valuable than yours. And for a specialist, there’s little excuse – appointments are booked weeks in advance, and typically they’re not dealing with urgent patients at short notice.

    A combination of the two perhaps?

  2. I agree. I have to take my son to specialists and it was really annoying to wait particularly when he was a toddler. And heaven help you if they happen to run on time and you are late!

  3. I used to work as a receptionist for a gp. The wait was often at least an hour. He bulk billed mostly, so it was not greed. The cause was people ringing up and insisting on being put in on the day. The gp could not say no to his patients. Even if appointments were left free for these appointments they would fill up. Another doctor was available with no wait. In the case of specialists charging $170 for under 10 mins it is hard to excuse, but for gps it is often demanding patients

  4. I took my son to A and E yesterday and only waited an hour and a half. I was extremely happy with that. My 1 gb download is gone for the month but it’s all good. He did have a fracture and was treated accordingly. I always value professionals time but I’m not sure they value you mine?

  5. In a word, Lissanne, GREED. This is common practice by specialists now. Contrary to what we all expect, it is the very clever manipulation of time mgmt to achieve targets. It is the opposite to what we have become used to but works extremely well for them. It’s not about allowing a certain amount of time for patients any more, its purely number crunching and patient targets to achieve $ results. Where we go wrong is assuming that patient “care” is the priority. Sure, there are some good GPs & specialists out there but the focus has changed substantially from “care & wellbeing” to “processing” patients and the costs involved. Sounds cynical and callous but you’ll find this happening more and more. Even the good GP’s get wrapped over the knuckles by govt for having long consultations (more than 10 mins) and asking for “extra” pathology tests etc. Prepare for things to get worse, I’m afraid.

  6. This is one of my major bugbears. I went to a specialist years ago. I waited over an HOUR, and in that time he saw ONE person before me.

    GPs piss me off too. One appointment every ten minutes. If that first appointment goes over, there goes the rest of the day. Even if I have a reasonably early appointment, say 10 or 11, I can still wait in excess of 30 minutes or more! I remember being the first appointment of the day once… and still having to wait half an hour!!

    Drives me nuts!! Would it really DECREASE productivity by adding five minutes to an appointment time? I don’t think so. I am sure it would do exactly the opposite.

  7. It infuriates me that you make an appointment and wait an hour to see a dr to me it’s dreadful time management. This happened to me only 2 days ago when I took my 3 yrs to see the drs for a cough. You can imagine after an hour of being confined in a waiting room he wasn’t the most patient child. However, when we finally did see the dr she seemed annoyed that he was co-operating and wanted to leave the room or just get his balloon and had the hid to ask me to settle him down so she could concentrate. I politely replied by saying “he was fine an hour ago when we arrived for our scheduled appointment, I believe the wait has agitated him”. She looked embarrassed and ignored my comment…..I say it’s greed

    • Jane, well done for speaking up. What a rude doctor! Like Jodi said, having to wait with a young child is tough, I don’t envy you.

      I hope we can all be more vocal – particularly when the overscheduling is clearly to do with money and not urgent medical emergencies.

      I feel like leading a campaign! Manners are manners- respecting others time is important.

  8. I guess it depends what type of specialist you are talking about, but it probably reflects the great need for his services/ lack of available services in his field. Therefore, having to book in so many patients in a certain time. Perhaps he doesn’t want to turn anyone away because he knows they will wait a lot longer elsewhere for an appt? Although my views come from working as a nurse in a busy public hospital, I’m not sure exactly how the private sector works. We have an outpatient day ward and are more than often overbooked with patients purely because they have to be seen. There is no other option. The health industry is lacking and it is all to do with funding. 😦
    I can imagine how frustrating it must have been for you though.

  9. Most GPs here in WA are like that, and often I have had it happen where the receptionist forgot to book me on the system as being there, so I waited longer, or in one case – so long the Doctor had actually gone home! And that was the actual Office Manager who forgot me that time!! I think it is BOTH greed & poor time management, particularly where places charge a fair bit and squish so many people in. Of course there are overheads, but there is also common decency and not wasting other people’s time too!

  10. I once got in at the GP ahead of another patient who wasn’t there for their appointment, but I was on time for mine. I also heard of someone who turned up late for their appointment and their excuse was that the GP usually keeps them waiting, why shouldn’t it happen in reverse! Not sure that I would be bold enough to try this though!

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