On June 29, 2010, the New York Times published an article by Jennifer Schultz entitled Punishing Doctors Who Make You Wait, an article which begins by claiming: “There’s nothing worse than showing up on time for a doctor’s appointment and then having to wait because the physician is running late.” According to our research at DrScore, that simply isn’t true.
Data from the patient satisfaction surveys collected at DrScore.com tell a different story. While it is true that keeping patients waiting lowers patient satisfaction, it is only by a very modest degree. Much more important in determining satisfaction is whether the patient saw a friendly, caring doctor. When it comes to patient satisfaction, there’s nothing worse than seeing a doctor who you don’t think is friendly and caring.
Of course it is a bad idea to keep patients waiting. But if patients are kept waiting because a doctor cares so much that he is giving each and every patient all the attention those patients need and deserve, patients are generally very understanding.
Schultz’s article goes on to suggest asking the doctor for a discount if the patient has had a long wait. I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. I’m willing to wait for my doctor if she’s busy with another patient who unexpectedly needed more time, because I know my doctor would spend more time with me if I were the one who needed more time. That’s all the compensation I need.