I don’t see eye-to-eye with my ophthalmologist’s scheduling
“Do you think your time is more valuable than mine?” I rhetorically asked Dr. D, the ophthalmologist who performed cataract surgery six months ago on both of my eyes. I had a 2:30 follow up appointment yesterday so Dr. D could retest my vision and take a look at the new lenses he had placed in my eyes. I asked him about the value of his time at 4:30 pm! Yep, I had waited two hours in his packed waiting room before I was called in to see him.
My patience level running low after waiting about 90 minutes, I approached the front desk where no fewer than four women sat answering phones, taking payments and making appointments.
“Can someone can tell me why patients have to wait hours here to see Dr. D.” I asked the assembled group. I had to wait for every one of my numerous appointments in this office, but never for as long as yesterday.
No one rushed to answer me, so I reworded the question, “Why do you make so many appointments and force patients to wait? I’d leave but it’s important for the doctor to see my eyes!”
Realizing I wasn’t going to sit down and keep quiet, one of the women answered defensively, “The doctor wants us to make appointments every 15 minutes. We’ve told him about patients’ complaints, but he doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to be doing nothing if a patient doesn’t show up.”
“That’s incredible. It’s okay for us to wait for hours, just as long as he’s raking in the money every minute of the day.” Now I had these women in my court.
“Why don’t you say something to him,” one responded.
“You bet I will!” I announced.
When my turn finally came to enter Dr. D’s inner sanctum, I entered, sat down on the examination chair and immediately asked him my rhetorical question about the value of his time versus mine. I didn’t speak in an angry tone, I might add. No point to that, I’ve learned over the many years
“Your time is more valuable than mine,” he answered, a bit of contrition in his usual chop chop tone.
“Then why did I wait two hours to see you? It’s ridiculous to make appointments 15 minutes apart, especially when you usually spend a lot longer with many patients,” I said with exasperation in my voice.
“I don’t like to sit around with nothing to do for 30 minutes if patients cancel at the last minute or don’t show up,” Dr. D responded with surprising honesty.
“You should make all the money you can, but not at my expense,” I said.
“It’s not about the money, but you’re right. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry. Just don’t schedule appointments 15 minutes apart. But to be safe, I’m taking your first appointment next time.”
Unfortunately, I could only get the second appointment for six months from now. All his first slots were taken on the days I wanted.
Pretty funny, I thought!