2020-10-23

Productive time wasted waiting for a specialist

I shudder at the thought of several hours wasted every time my local doctor refers me to a specialist. I know that I would be seated at the reception area for at least an hour or even as long as 3 hours. That is of course, in spite of an appointment having been made with his secretary.

Most General Practitioners (GPs) do not accept appointments. It’s usually on a first come – first served basis. But not in the case of many Specialist Doctors! First you have to dial a number and request for an appointment.

Quite frequently, the secretary will tell you that the doctor is very busy and can make himself available only after 2 months. So the waiting time begins.
Unfortunately, if you are after an Oncologist, 2 months maybe more than enough time for cancer cells to spread to other vital organs.

But the waiting game starts all over again when you reach the Specialist’s clinic on the appointed time and date. You discover that many other patients were given the same time by the ‘efficient’ secretary . . . and of course, you find yourself at the very end of the queue.

So you approach the secretary and remind her that it is 30 minutes past the appointed time. She points to a sign that says “appointments are given only as a matter of reference.”

You remind yourself that you are a patient and must practice patience but your patience is running out because of another commitment. You must leave and tell the secretary that you will just call for another appointment, knowing fully well that it won’t happen within the next 2 months.

If ever you succeed in seeing the specialist, you must be ready to dish out at least $180, and that is for a 10 minute consultation.

How much productive time is wasted while waiting at the reception area of a Specialist’s Clinic? Consider an average of 20 people who have to wait for at least one hour. Assume that each of these 20 patients make only $20 per hour. Multiply that by the actual number of specialists in Australia and further multiplied by the number of days in each year. The resulting figure is mind-boggling and could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Who is the culprit? Is it the Specialist who is not capable of managing his time or is it his secretary who indiscriminately gives out appointments without coordinating with the doctor? – ? DMC