The Anatomy of a Healthcare Appointment in the Current Landscape

A young Asian woman gets her blood pressure taken during a healthcare appointment.
Healthcare appointments are getting more efficient but still have a long way to go.

You’ve heard, or even said, the line, “Back in my day…” when someone begins a story a few times before. Although the tale will typically give you a glance at the good ‘ole days and bring up a notion of nostalgia, there is certainly merit in evaluating “how things used to be” in order to create a better tomorrow.

That couldn’t be more applicable into today’s healthcare industry.

The role healthcare technology plays in the healthcare landscape

A doctor points to a digital tablet while educating a patient during a healthcare appointment
A doctor explains a patient intake form during a healthcare appointment.

While it may seem like a far-fetched fable, there really was a time when an appointment with a doctor looked vastly different. And unlike most monumental shifts or changes in an industry, this massive change to healthcare appointments isn’t disrupted because of technology – it’s actually in spite of it.

The rules, regulations, laws, and a tremendously tough and ever-changing health insurance climate, have drastically impacted the anatomy of our appointments.

When you stop to think about the what the entire structure of a visit with your doctor looks like, you will find yourself asking, “How long did this doctor’s appointment really take?”

While, yes, the timing on a healthcare appointment can vary depending on external factors, the body of the appointment remains the same. Here’s a general breakdown of the process to get you from problem to resolution (or check out the following article for a very detailed breakdown from Dr. Danielle Ofri in the New York Times):

Pre-Healthcare Appointment

  • Finding a provider if you don’t already have one
  • Scheduling
  • Paperwork
  • Research and preparation – prioritize questions

Day of Healthcare Appointment

  • Commute to the appointment
  • Check-in
  • Waiting in the waiting room
  • Pre-Visit
  • Waiting in the patient room
  • Visit with doctor – review notes/symptons and top questions
  • Check out
  • Commute from the appointment

Post-Healthcare Appointment

  • Prescription pick-ups
  • Test results
  • Insurance payments
  • Mystery bills
  • Follow-ups
  • More research and preparation

When you start to analyze the individual elements in the makeup of your healthcare appointment, it all starts to add up. And while the “to-do” list for you as a patient is long, the “to-do” list for your provider is even longer.

Systematic healthcare technology issues causes dysfunction for physicians

A doctor listens to a patient during a healthcare appointment.
53% of primary care providers report time pressure during healthcare appointments.

The unfortunate nature of their list is that the details aren’t widely known or addressed, but the impacts are monumental. They come with very dire consequences that can, in some cases, be career ending.

In 2009, a research study was performed on the working conditions in primary care by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin. The study determined that 53% of primary care providers report time pressure in the clinical encounter and 78.4% noted low control over their work.

And while those numbers are alarming – the thought of how much has changed in the healthcare industry in the last 10 years is even more so. We live in a technology-driven world where data and analytics help shape decisions and provide real-time assessments for personal or professional strategies. Yet, when it comes to our medical care, we couldn’t be living in the stone ages more.

The seamless and on-demand world we have become accustomed to does not translate to our healthcare appointments.

According to an article published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine by a group of physicians – it’s a systematic issue. “Scientific advances have increased the complexity of diagnostic testing and prescribing, the frequency of care coordination between generalists and subspecialists, and the post-visit workload. Computer work has spiraled, along with an expanded number of reportable performance measures.”

What does that mean for the patients?

In essence, there are about a dozen cooks in a tiny kitchen that doesn’t have a properly functioning stove.

It’s exactly the reason MD Clarity was created. To help solve this fundamental problem. To help providers eliminate the operating headaches which prevent them from moving into the 21st century.

Which, ultimately, helps the patients. The ones who put health and well-being in their hands. The ones who shouldn’t be collateral damage of a broken system.

It’s time – time to move forward so we can get back to the good ‘ole days.

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