Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is the cost of your time?

To your boss you are worth at least $8 an hour. If you have an advanced degree, are not a teacher and in an executive position you are worth at least $100 an hour.

A lawyer can be worth up to $500 an hour and a doctor about the same.

I have never been paid by a boss or paid myself as a business owner a lot of money an hour. Now, being semi-retired, it's even less, but I value my time these days for what I get to choose doing with that time.

Last Friday I went to my doctor for an 8:15 a.m. appointment. When I was rushing around getting ready unlike most mornings, I question my sanity. Usually I hold out for the last appointment of the day, knowing no matter how behind the office is running, I'll get seen quickly as no one wants to work past closing time. Regardless, I got to the office at 8 a.m. and remarkably the entire staff was there. Although I had not stopped in my rush to be on time to make or buy coffee I could smell coffee brewing somewhere in the back. The thought of asking for a cup of coffee vanished when I read again the bold lettered sign taped to the glass door: No Food or Drink.

So I go in and sign the sheet that requires me to give my name, address, phone number, insurance company and doctor's name. This is a piece of paper that I've fill in several times a year for twenty years.

I sit down, get my glasses, get my book and begin reading. Before 8:15 a.m. ten more people come in the door and do as I did. At 8:20 a.m. I'm called back to have my blood pressure, pulse and weight documented. I am in a small room sitting in a chair beside an exam table covered with white paper imprinted with the logo of the latest "hard dick" drug. When the nurse leaves the room and closes the door, I remain there reading my book. Doors open and close along the hall and voices migrate; sometimes so that I can understand them and sometimes as mumbles.

At 9:42 a.m. the doctor enters the room with a ten inch thick file; my file. He spends ten minutes with me asking me questions that I could have answered online. I do appreciate the personal one on one meeting with my doctor because if I walked in and was suddenly blue, I'd like a medical doctor to see that.

Later when making my appointment for June I asked the scheduler about shortening the time between when I present myself and when the doctor presents himself. She had no solution to the problem.  As with other inefficient business practices the solution is a well designed process of documenting and serving the patient.

My friend Lenny says he's solved the problem of wasting time in the doctor's office. He sees an endocrinologist too and years ago told him if he was not seen by the doctor within fifteen minutes he would not only not pay the bill he would send the doctor a bill for his time. Lenny's hourly rate is $190. He says he never has to wait though I have never gone with him to verify this.

I figure my time has been proven to be worth minus $20. That is my co-pay.


  1. First of all, Coffee does not fall under the "No Food or Drink" mandate. I've tested this many times.

    Second - i have officially confirmed the fact that I am not a phonetic reader as it took me 3 readings to not follow "hard dick drug" with "ten inch thick".....

    Well, you get the idea.

  2. sadly this was a short time compared to some I've had and I'm sure you have had as well. it's so annoying. but to get a patient in every 15 minutes they cram so many in an hour and there is no way you can get proper care like that.

    since losing insurance I now go to a doctor who doesn't take insurance. The visits are longer, calmer, more discussions and while I hate not having insurance my visits are more productive (autoimmune disease)i pay thru the arse but my care is far superior.

  3. Being retired, I don't mind the wait. I take my book and read in the waiting room, read in the doctor's room, and read while I wait for the nurse to bring me my Rx and other stuff. Anything to take my mind off the prostate exam I'm about to endure. Fucker has big fingers.

  4. You are so right. And barring an emergency, a good explanation and an apology, I can't think of a good reason you should have been kept waiting.
    My rule of thumb -- after 45 minutes I leave -- and not without first telling them why.

  5. I bill at $56 / hour. You owe me $4. I read slower in the morning, so I'm more of a bargain blog reader in the afternoon.

  6. I understand your complaint. The only doctor I see is my psychiatrist so he can prescribe a refill of my medication. It takes less than 30 minutes in and out. He is good about that. I avoid all the other doctors because they take up time.

    As for Grant's comment my boss pays for my blogging :).

  7. AnnoyingJoe: If I could only let go of my "raised right" upbringing and say exactly what I want and never settle for less. So sorry about the proximity of those 2 phrases!

    Speaking of this kind of thing, I was watching TV last week and there was an ad a bout a stud farm here in Kentucky. The speaker announces in a big bold voice: Rock Hard 10 at stud ____ farm. I bet on that horse in 2005. I usually won.

    Margaret: Although I need to see my doctor regularly, I never use health care to the extent of my insurance premiums. I would like to pay a lower premium and pay for my doctor visits out of pocket. But, that's not an option.

    Coffee: I can deal with the wait, but I know that system can be more efficient and the business owner in me is irritated to see something that is never improved.

    Kathy: My doctor never rushes out to emergencies. He has his patients covered on nights and week ends and does rounds at a pre-determined time. It's an office process that needs work.

    Bath: My boss pays for my blogging time too, but then again that's me, so I'm not stealing anything.

  8. i curse doctors for making me wait until i remember all the times i've been "squeezed" in without an appointment making others wait.

  9. I get very aggressive - I too value my time. If I'm not seen in 5 - 10 minutes, I remind the people at the desk when my appointment was. If I'm not given a justifiable explanation eg a patient emergency and am not seen within 15 I'll probably just leave. If for whatever reason I'm unwilling or unable to reschedule, I'll hover. Stand by the desk if I'm not in a room, or I'll open the door to the examining room and hover in the hall if I have been put in one. They will make an effort to get you out of their face, and if they know they'll lose the appointment if they aren't punctual they will see you more promptly in the future.

  10. Well Charlene!

    Here in the UK we have the NHS which is free to all, and as such the level of care and attention to the individual depends entirely upon geography and luck!

    I can visit my doctor any working day of the week by attending his surgery and waiting my turn. It is a wonderful thing.

  11. Yeah, go ahead and send your doctor a bill. I'm sure he'll pay it. Probably add in some extra money as a bonus.

    I hate having to cool my heels, too, and have left doctors who have crazily long wait times. I don't mind if they are dealing with an emergency, but otherwise, I want to be seen in a reasonably timely way.

  12. "Hard Dick" drugs "Rock!!"

  13. Yes, girl, the system is BROKEN! I blame managed care. My quick and dirty version:

    Before managed care, docs made enough to give patients longer appointments. And many of them spurred their staff to keep them as on time as possible, so, if they ran late, you knew it was an actual emergency. Then, Big Insurance decided to increase their profit through managed care, whose job it was to "broker" the patient out of the treatment they'd paid for. At the same time Medicare began it's long slow race to the bottom of the payer heap. So docs had to go to four patient/hours to make their boat payments.

    Then Big Pharma started pimping for profits, clogging the doc's hallways with hotties carrying catered lunches and trying to grab the docs before they got into the patient room (they get paid by "doc minutes," which they log meticulously. Which means the doc actually has only five or ten minutes for you and no longer bothers to try to be on time because it's hopeless.

    Which means their liability insurers have to up their rates, because docs can't possibly be practicing carefully in these conditions.

    My only hope: Vote Democrat and then bitch at the poor president until we get single payer health care. And...I wanna go with Lenny to his next appointment, 'cause there was a BIG AMA lobby opposing the Affordable Care Act, so we oughta squeeze them from that end, too.

  14. UGH! I know what ya mean. I used to work in a medical practice and we had one doctor who ALWAYS ran behind, sometimes two or three hours behind. I got yelled out on a daily basis because she always ran behind. It was so frustrating since I had ZERO control over her schedule. I know they can get held up on rounds at the hospital or with patients in the E/R, but good grief, don't over-schedule people. I think if you want to get something done about it, talk to the doctor 'cause the chick at the front desk probably has ZERO control.

  15. Billy: I am not upset either if I asked for squeeze ins, but I never do.

    Tiera: I'm to go see a new doctor for me, a podiatrist Tuesday and spoke to one of the office staff yesterday making the appointment. I asked her was the doctor usually on time if I was. She said yes. I told her I was very unhappy with my regular doctor making me wait an hour or almost two hours for an appointment that I arrived for 10 minutes early and if I had to wait I would leave 15 minutes after the time. We'll see how this goes.

    Sarah: I would like to try that NHS method. Wonder if I'll live to see it in the US?

    Bamma: Ah, I could tell you a story but I would say that yes, they do.

    Nance: I agree with you. So now we have insurance companies managing us and all the savings they cnan wring out of the system goes to them.

    FrouFrou: I tell the doctor too. I really believe it is a system and process problem of that office in particular.

    Anonymous: I did not publish your comment as you are Anonymous. And although it was not awful, I wonder why you, from Amarillo Texas about 10minutes ago [11:06 p.m. Friday night], didn't attach your name. Was it because you don't care for my comments on your blog and you don't want you slavish followers to know you are kind and reasonable? In any case, the reason I have managed comments turns on is I don't approve unkind or anonymous posts. SMILE

  16. So, you went to see my doctor (you described the experience to a T).
    These days I take my iPhone and headphones. I tell the receptionist to shake me if fall asleep and they call my name.


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