I used to say that I was going to have a T-shirt made that said “Sorry for the wait.”
When I was in traditional medicine, I said that phrase to almost all my patients as I breezed into the exam room. If I were doing well, it was only ½ hour after their allotted appointment time. Many times they had been in the medical office for an hour by the time I could get to them.
Some people might imagine doctors chatting and drinking coffee while patients twiddled their thumbs in the exam rooms. But in reality, we were on the go, spending time with complicated patients, writing up the plans from the last patient encounter, reviewing the chart for the next patient, answering urgent questions from staff. Sometimes we took a couple of minutes to go to the bathroom. We hauled home our laptop computers so we could document in front of the TV before finally heading to bed.
Since starting my DPC (Direct Primary Care) practice, I feel like I’m in a different world. I stay on time. My waiting room almost never has anyone in it. I spend time with my patients in 30- to 60-minute visits, getting to know them and working together on improving their health.
I don’t bill insurance, so there’s no middleman for my patients’ care. Patients pay a monthly fee, and in exchange they get unlimited office visits and communication. They see me for every encounter, so we get to know each other.
If I were to have a T-shirt made now, it would say “Welcome. Working for my patients instead of for the insurance companies.”
Medicine the way it should be.