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Why are we waiting.... whhyyy are we waiting?

Posted in Client Service @ Nov 27th 2012 6:06pm - By Judy Gillespie
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I’ve just returned from a visit to my GP for a regular checkup.

The first stage involved a session with a nurse and took about 30 minutes.  She then told me to sit in the waiting area so I could go over the results with my doctor.

So I took my seat in a packed waiting area filled with sick people....and I waited....and waited....and waited.  All the time trying to take in as little air as possible so I didn’t catch whatever the people around me had (I have a vivid imagination & assumed they all must have something nasty – unlike me of course who is fit & healthy!)  

I felt like I was in one of those sped up videos where everyone around me comes and goes while I sit in the one spot  – perhaps a music video with a plaintive “I’m still waiting for you” type song. 

The waiting room emptied and then filled and then emptied...and still I sat....and waited.

I also watched the four receptionists take phone calls, talk with patients (other than me) and chat to each other.  I saw my doctor pop out now and then and call....someone else’s name.

Nearly an hour later, my name was finally called. My doctor apologised and said she had had some unexpectedly complicated consults – which doesn’t surprise me given the standard 10 minute consultation times.  (I’ve always wondered what illness you can actually talk about in 10 minutes.)

I understand that visits to the doctor can often involve a wait – especially as my doctor is very thorough which is why I go to her.  And I also understand that the waiting time is also likely to be exacerbated by what seems like a crazy 10 minute ‘standard’ consult time.


What I don’t understand is why there isn't a protocol in place where one of the receptionists could have let me know that there was a wait ahead of me.  I just sat there and started to think that perhaps there had been a mistake and I was supposed to make another appointment to come back to see my doctor. I didn’t check with the receptionists as every time the doctor popped her head out I was sure she was going to call my name – but no, there were at least four people ahead of me. And not one of the four receptionists spoke to me in that whole time. 

I know patience is not one of my virtues, but there surely must be a better way to manage unavoidable waiting time?

So I'd love to hear what you think.  Am I being too impatient?  What would you do if this situation was in your veterinary business rather than a medical practice?  Do you have a protocol in place where you keep clients informed of any wait times & the reasons why? 

Tell me in the comments section below how you would have handled this situation in your business.


Gillian @ Nov 28th 2012 9:41am
Yes definitely. I will advise people if we are running behind time (a very rare occurrance and usually the result of someone coming in late for an appointment and or bringing in an extra animal that wasn't booked in!) I will apologise and advise the waiting client of the delay. I try to run a "tight ship" so to speak and make sure appointments run on time. we allow 15mins if it is for a routine appointment and if I think it may be complicated I will try to schedule the appointment so we can alot half hour is necessary When clients pointedly ask me on the phone if the vet runs to time normally I tell them there is only a few reasons we don't run to time: someone is late for their appoitment, they bring in extra animals we were not expecting, someone comes in without an appointment or we have an emergency. Human GP's do seem to run late - interestingly my boss complained recently that he had to make an appointment with his GP just to get his results, which would take no longer than 5 mins. However it took approx 1.5hrs out of bosses day.........for something we do over the telephone!
Judy @ Nov 28th 2012 11:04am
Thanks Gillian - I was interested to hear that you communicate delays to your clients. I understand why human GP's run late - I just don't understand why they don't have the courtesy to communicate with patients.

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