Doctors have clinic schedules. Based on these schedules, patients are expected to arrive at a certain time. In turn, they expect a certain amount of face time with the doctor. In my clinic, a new patient is scheduled for 30 minutes and a follow-up 15 minutes.
But humans and their problems rarely fit into 15 and 30 minute blocks.
So how does it work?
Something like this: If a new patient needs 45 minutes she gets 45. Because there are enough follow-ups that are doing so well that they comfortably need only 10 minutes. That busy follow-up mother is typically itchin’ to stay in the clinic only as long as she needs to. And when the deteriorating follow-up needs 30 minutes instead of 15 there’s always the new patient with a problem that resolved since making the appointment. Of course, there are the 15% of patients on the schedule who just don’t show. And reality dictates that on certain days accidents on the feeder road to the hospital will lead to really late arrivals.
Between administrators, doctors, and patients who are flexible enough to bend with the wind, patients get more than they need when they need it. Or only as much as they need if that’s the case.
The natural variability of human experience adjusts for what a template could never do. The clinic schedule, it seems, is just a solid starting point.
It’s the human nature of clinic schedules.
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