Many of us have been there: thirty minutes after our scheduled appointment time, you are still sitting in the waiting room – maybe even an exam room – but you have yet to see the doctor. That is thirty minutes in which you receive no treatment and are exposed to even further illness from your fellow waiting patients.
According to Forbes, economics could be to blame
As Robert Szczerba explains, doctors operate their practices using an adapted form of the basic economic model in which their profit relies on the reimbursement they receive, minus their operating costs, multiplied by the number of patients they are able to see. The only way to maintain or increase their profit when costs rise and reimbursements fall, then, is to add more patients to the schedule.
Unfortunately, that often results in the scenario with which we began. Patients begin to have more trouble getting a timely appointment then must wait longer once they arrive to see the doctor. Seeing more patients also means shorter visits with each, which makes it difficult to build and maintain a strong relationship between patient and provider.
Sociologist Timothy Hoff of Northeastern University is currently researching the changing provider-patient relationship through the lens of emerging healthcare technologies. Hoff argues that while new tech innovations make healthcare more efficient, an over-reliance on those technologies threatens to replace personal contact rather than enhance it and can lead to “more transactional and impersonal” healthcare.
While they approach the issue from different sides, both Szczerba and Hoff conclude that changes are necessary to bring the patient – and the provider-patient relationship – back to the center of healthcare where they belong.
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