Why do I sometimes have to wait so long?
No one likes to wait at the doctor's office. We don't want patients to have to wait. We continuously monitor wait times and try to improve our office work flow. Unfortunately, with pediatrics, there are always things that come up unexpectedly in our schedule. We can be running right on time, but one patient is all it takes to fall behind. Please be patient with us! Remember if it is your child that needs the extra time, we will take that time.
If it is important to you to have less of a wait time, avoid late morning or late afternoon appointments (more time for us to get caught up in something), and avoid busy Mondays and Fridays, as well as the day before and after holidays.
What makes the wait so long in the first place?
- Sick kids. Most of our “sick” appointments are fairly quick visits, and are scheduled as such. Children who are truly sick and require more time (breathing treatments, stitches, admission to the hospital, sending for x-ray, or watching as they sip fluids over a few hours) back us up. They take extra physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant and nursing time and may tie up a room for several hours. Please understand that this may happen any time, and even an otherwise low patient volume day can be consumed by one sick child. Most importantly, if it is your child, we will spend the required time to adequately treat him/her.
- “Oh, by the way…” This is a common phrase in any doctor’s office. When you have an appointment for one thing, but bring several concerns, the visit runs long. Scheduling experts recommend putting off all non-urgent things for a future appointment, but often we will address many of the concerns so you do not have to return. If we tell you that there is not enough time today to discuss other matters, please schedule another appointment for each separate problem. This does not include things that go together, such as cold, cough and earache. All of these can be addressed together. Do not schedule to come in for a rash, but also plan on discussing chronic headaches, warts, asthma, and other complaints.
- Siblings. Many times each day our providers are asked to “just take a look” at brother or sister. This innocent question seems to only take a few minutes, but these minutes add up by the end of the day. Since we will see all sick children on a same-day basis, please make an appointment for each child you want checked or discussed. If you just want to discuss another child without an appointment, call the nurse line or e-mail your provider.
- Timing. Sometimes we joke that the bus just stopped by. There’s no one in the waiting room, then suddenly the waiting room is full of people. If someone's late to an appointment, someone else right on time, and someone early, then it gets backed up. Please be on time for appointments whenever possible and call if you will be more than a few minutes late. We understand that sometimes there is unexpected traffic, so we will always fit people in who missed their appointment time, but realize that it makes others wait. Do not schedule an appointment if you know you will be late. (It’s amazing how often we hear, “It always takes so long to get from work to daycare and then to the office,” when a parent is late.)
- Availability. We will see your sick child the same day if possible. Sick kids can’t wait until a week from Tuesday, as some offices schedule. We will not double book an appointment slot. Please try to call early in the day if you want an appointment. There seems to be a rush after 3 pm. If there is no appointment when you want to come in, you can bring your child to our urgent care walk in any time it's open.
- Insurance information and other “bookkeeping” issues. Please be ready with all current insurance information as you check in. If you have not filled in a Patient Information Sheet in the past 12 months, you will be asked to provide a new form. Filling this out at home is easier for most parents so it is available on our website. For all new patients and existing patients with insurance changes, our receptionists may need to call the insurance company to verify information.
- School physical forms. Often high school age kids (and kids who participate in CYO sports) come in for sport physicals without the required form filled in. The form MUST be completed before the physician can see the patient. The Kansas state form is detailed and takes time to fill out. Please fill it out before coming to the office. If you do not have a form, click here.
- Behavior. Some parents spend an extraordinary amount of time disciplining their children in our office. Often it is the sibling of the child with the appointment, not even the child being seen. We know that all children are rowdy sometimes, but it makes the visit long if we have to repeat what is said multiple times because the parent was distracted by the child, or if we have to wait for the parent to calm the child down. Bringing only the child(ren) with appointments helps this situation. If a child resists an exam (very common between 12 and 36 months) it takes longer to adequately evaluate the child. We expect and understand this, but it still adds time to our day, and if we have several of these children in a row, it slows us down.
- Walk-ins. We offer a walk-in clinic daily. We staff this based on time of year and expected volume of patients. Obviously without scheduled appointments, this is at best an educated guess. Try arriving before the last 30 minutes of walk-in, as this is the busiest time.
What can I do to help?
- Arrive within 5 minutes of your appointment time. If you will be late, please call. Anyone more than 15 minutes late may be asked to reschedule with another provider or at a different time. Do not come early expecting to be seen before your appointment time.
- Schedule your appointment appropriately. Scheduling for an earache when you really want to discuss the implications of your divorce on your child's behavior or their many months of stomach problems is not appropriate. An earache is a short appointment. Chronic conditions, behavior concerns, and well visits are long visits on the schedule.
- Be flexible. If the provider you scheduled with is very busy due to unexpected issues and you are offered to see another provider, please consider this option. If you want to see only the person you scheduled with, remember you will wait longer. If another provider has an opening, you will get more prompt (but still great!) care.
- If you must leave by a specific time, let your nurse know. She might suggest seeing another provider if the one you are seeing is delayed.
- Bring only the child scheduled for an appointment if possible. This allows the focus to be on your child that is being seen, and not on the fighting and running around that happens with siblings. Also, there is less exposure to the germs in our office, so you don't make a trip back a few days later with a sick sibling!
- Schedule all children you wish to discuss.
- Have your insurance card ready at check in.
- Pre-fill out any forms needed: Camp and Sports forms and our Patient Information Sheet are all available under the Resources Tab above.
- Schedule early in the morning.