How to Get More out of your Doctor’s Visit

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The standard family doctor’s visit for BC (and most of the developed world) is 10 minutes long. That may not seem like much time for medical care, but if used wisely a lot can be accomplished. The reason I am often not on time for your appointment is usually NOT because I have had too many people to see that day, but because I have gone overtime on the visits with the patients ahead of you. If there are more than 1 or 2 problems to deal with, it is humanly impossible for me to deal with them adequately in one sitting of any length, let alone ten minutes,

To try to keep on time better, some doctors’ offices have instituted a policy of “One problem per visit.” Unfortunately, medical problems do not always arise one at a time, and it may be difficult for you to know which is most important, so I prefer to be more flexible.

“Doc, I brought my list…”

If you do have a number of concerns, don’t be afraid to bring a list. We can go over it, decide together which items should take priority, and proceed from there. If there are a number of items, it may take an entire visit just to prioritize everything. But do not despair, we will get through the “list”, and I can do a better job for you by seeing you a few times over a short period rather than trying to struggle through everything in one sitting.

Some people, recognizing that I am busy, “save up” their problems and bring a list to the visit. While I appreciate your consideration, this frequently backfires, leading to either an overtime visit, and/or only partially dealt-with problems. You will get better medical care if you come in as problems arise, and at the same time you will really help my scheduling.

“All I need is a prescription refill, Doc…”

For prescriptions for long term medication for conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, my usual practice is to give enough refills to last until the time that your condition is due to be reassessed by me. These types of conditions need periodic evaluation (often including lab work, etc) to ensure that the condition is properly controlled, and that there are no complications. The seemingly simple task of writing a prescription refill is only a small part of what I need to do to determine whether your condition is being well-controlled, what tests may be due, and whether a change of treatment is needed This always takes up a whole visit, and cannot be done at the tail end of a visit that you have booked for other reasons. Also, this obviously cannot be done over the phone, which is the reason why our clinic does not do phone refills Also, waiting till the last minute and refilling these prescriptions at our After-Hours Clinics takes away my chance to re-evaluate your condition.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I welcome any comments. I hope this helps to improve the quality of the medical care I can give you and at the same time, reduce the amount of time you have to spend sitting in my waiting room.