Thursday, April 24, 2014

Avoid Long Waiting – How to Schedule Your Prenatal Care Office Visits

By: Douglas Penta MD OB/GYN  (Platinum Ezine Author)
This is the type of information I enjoy sharing with my readers. Advice that is intended to be practical and very applicable, to help you with the little things that can make a big difference.
When scheduling an OB/GYN office visit, it is helpful to first have an understanding of how a women’s health medical practice is managed on a daily basis.
In OB/GYN, there are many unpredictable factors that can impact how efficiently a practice will function from day to day. Unexpected events can disrupt even the most well thought out office schedule. Miscarriages, surgical emergencies and patients in labor are unpredictable events.
Granted there are always coverage arrangements in place to meet practice demands, but even with this being the case, there will always be occasions when the medical staff will be over-extended. When this happens, it is our hope, as providers, that patients will be understanding.
I am very sensitive to the total amount of time which can be lost by a prenatal patient during the course of her prenatal and postpartum care. Frequent visits can result in a significant amount of lost time from their daily schedules, including travel time, etc.
Providers dread running late for patients and even worse having to reschedule a patient, as this is not good for the relationship. Furthermore, it can often feel like a double standard to the patient, if the provider cannot see her. Patients wait for doctors… why shouldn’t doctors wait for patients?
The recommendations I am going to list below are extremely simple and intended to help minimize some of the inconveniences and frustrations associated with scheduling office visits:
  • Book in advance.  Try to book as many appointments at one time as is possible/allowed so that you can get the times that you want. The intervals between appointments will be determined by the gestational age of your pregnancy.  Generally, appointments start about every 4 weeks, then become every 2 weeks, then every week as you approach your due date.
  • Schedule early in the day.  You want to keep your appointments at the start of your provider’s work day. This will reduce the possibility of problems occurring that can set your provider behind. If you are scheduling an afternoon appointment, try to get a time immediately after lunch (at the start of the afternoon session). Most providers, who are running behind, will tend to use their lunch time as a buffer to catch up if their morning session runs late. Needless to say, this might mean giving up their allotted time for lunch but that is simply how schedules are kept on time in this setting.
  • Call ahead.  Whenever possible, phone ahead to determine whether your provider is running on time. Most practices are glad to hear from you before you arrive so they can address a potential delay in the office schedule. When I am behind and am asked what to do about a patient who is inquiring, I much rather hear that the patient is on the phone and not sitting in the waiting room. I feel I have more flexibility, perhaps I can see the patient for the last appointment of the day or during a canceled appointment time that might have been called in earlier that day.
  • Schedule when more than one doctor is in the office.  If there are choices to schedule your appointments, try to schedule on days when there are more than one provider in the office. As a result of surgical schedules, providers being on-call or just coming off call (at the hospital) there can be days with limited office coverage. This is no fault of anyone, it is simply part of the logistics of maintaining an office practice. If there is only one provider in the office (“your provider”) it can take just one urgent problem/emergency to disrupt a schedule for the rest of the day as there is no one else in the office to help catch up.
I hope these suggestions are helpful to you and also will help you have a better understanding of why there may be a wait for routine office visits.

Douglas Penta MD OB/GYN

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