Thursday, March 29, 2012

6 Tips for Your Next Doctor's Office Visit.

Do you hate waiting at the doctor's office? 

Do you think you're being ignored and that the doctor is in the back playing on his iPad and eating brownies?

Do you think the nurses/techs/front desk personnel are laughing it up and gossiping while you're patiently waiting for your few minutes in the exam room?

You're not alone. Since I've started working at a doctor's office, I've had multiple people ask me questions about what really happens behind the scenes and why they have to wait so long. This is something people despise and I totally understand. (I've been going to the eye doctor since I was four!)

No, I don't know how it works in ALL doctors' offices, and I'm not speaking for EVERY practice, and maybe the nurses ARE gossiping while you're waiting, but as checking people in is my #1 responsibility at work, I can offer you a few tips to make your doctor's visit go more smoothly.

Tips For Your Next Doctor's Office Visit

1. Arrive early.

A lot of people think, why get there early? I'm going to have to wait anyway, it's not going to help anything. IT DOES.

When people come in early for their appointments I want to high five them. If the front desk can get a head start on checking you in, it makes everything easier for your whole visit. And helps the person who's appointment is after you. And sometimes...just can see the doctor early!

2. Be ready to wait at least a little bit.

I used to think that in our technologically advanced world that all you have to do is walk in, give them your info, and with one click of the mouse you are good to go for doctor time. 
Not the case.

Even if they already have ALL of your information, they're going to have to make sure everything is set with your insurance. You can't just send someone back to the doctor and hope their insurance will cover it, you have to know EXACTLY what their coverage is so there will be no surprises. You have to authorize it and get them the best deal possible. This is for the patient's benefit! Be glad! 

Which brings me to the next point...

3. Know about your insurance and have your cards with you.

It baffles me when people come to the doctor and don't bring their insurance cards. But don't just bring them - KNOW about them. Know which one you're going to need to show them. Have a good idea about what your coverage will be. 

When someone comes in and I ask them about their vision coverage and they say "I have no idea if I have vision coverage" I then have to check about seven different ways to see if they do. Through websites, through phone calls, through asking my supervisor questions. As you can imagine, this takes a while.

Sometimes people come in for their routine eye exam and all they give me is their dental card. Like that's going to magically transform into vision coverage. Yeah.

Also know what name the insurance is under and that person's information - their full name, date of birth, social security number. Oh yeah, and know your own SS# too. 

4. Don't freak out if they ask you some questions.

We have security questions we have to ask that other people besides you wouldn't know how to answer. Sometimes people get seriously peeved by this, but it's for their own benefit. If you haven't noticed these days, people STEAL IDENTITIES. They COMMIT FRAUD. This is to protect against this.

Oh, and if they ask to take your picture, just do it. Just look into the little camera. That way no one can walk in and pretend to be you. It's simple and it won't hurt. They're not going to post it to Facebook, they're not going to be able to tell if you have makeup on, they don't care about your picture.

5. If you've been waiting for a long time, politely tell them.

Although this is probably quite rare, there could be a chance that you haven't been checked in yet and you're just sitting there. Or that your insurance is not able to be authorized and it's taking forever. 

If this happens, calmly ask the front desk about the status of your visit. If you get mad, I promise it will not help a thing. It will just be a story the front desk worker discouragingly tells her husband about over dinner.

(Oh and by the way, 18 minutes is not a long time. 48 minutes is a long time.)

If they've made a mistake and you're nice about it, they're going to try to fix it as FAST as possible and you will have made a positive impact on their day. For real. It matters. And people do make mistakes! Which reminds me...

6. Review your charges and your account after it's been billed to the insurance.

We're all human, and mistakes do happen. Not too frequently if it's a good team of people who really know what they're doing, but it can happen. Sometimes through something as small as one number off in the system. Make sure your charges are correct and that your coverage was what it was supposed to be! 

Do you have any other questions about visiting the doctor?

Do you work in a medical office and have some more tips?



  1. This list is awesome!!!! I'm doing appointment scheduling for a huge orthopaedic clinic. I don't actually work with patients but I sit at a desk answering phone calls all day scheduling appointments. It is just so crazy to me how little people know about their insurance, the pain they're in, and themselves!! Get it together, people! You called me because you hurt yourself, please know whether it's your foot or your arm. Oh, and knowing your phone number helps, too. haha anyways, I wish they could all read this list.

    Isn't it just the best when people are extremely nice and kind and complimentary? It doesnt happen that often to me unfortunately, but nice people totally make my day :)

  2. I LOVE that you posted this! I'll definitely take your advice next time I go to the doctor AND I'll be more patient while I'm waiting for my turn to get in :)

  3. I am literally your worst nightmare. I show up at the time of my appointment (I always mean to get there early, but I'm that perpetually late person), I generally forget my insurance card, "but my friend goes here and she has the same group ID as me since we work together, does that help?!", and then I ask a million questions about my symptoms and start pacing after about 10 mins of waiting for the nurse to call me back.

    Oops :)

  4. Great post! I've seen some seriously nasty people at doctor's offices and I always want to ask them what they think their bad attitude is accomplishing?!

    I'm always an early bird to appointments- and it's true, sometimes I get in early!

  5. Everything here is so true!! I work as a medical secretary and wish our patients had this list. Another I would add is to read your paperwork!! We don't send it just to waste paper. Many of our procedures require anesthesia or moderate sedation, so patients need someone to drive them home. I can't tell you how many people don't read the info we send them and come in alone! It just makes more of a mess for everyone involved. I also cannot agree more with being polite. Everyone is stressed out, but if everyone is nice to one another things would be much less stressful! Love this!

  6. stumbled onto your blog and just wanted to leave you a little blog luv! Def enjoyed this post!! this is def a GREAT post!! you def listed some great points!

  7. This was a great list! I work in a doctors office too, and it certainly pays off if patients get there early!

    Newest follower. :)


  8. I just found your blog and am loving it!! It's so wonderful finding fellow christian newlyweds :) I read your love story and mine and my fiance's is similar in that our paths crossed TONS before actually meeting in 2010-God's timing is perfect!! Anyway, nice to "meet ya"


  9. bwahahahaa... I was laughing so hard while I was reading this! I used to work in a dr's office this just brought back so many memories. I remember people FREAKING out when I asked them check-in questions. Sometimes I just wanted to scream, "Yes, I realize you are here about 5 days a week, little old woman, but I still have to follow proper checkin procedures!!" Ok... apparently I still have a little bit of frustration towards it... hahaha

  10. I nominated your blog for "The Versatile Blogger" Award! :D



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