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.