The tyranny of the appointment

Forcing doctors and patients to communicate and problem solve within defined time slots forces a series of bad practices. A health issue is like anything in life. They have a beginning, a middle, and, ideally, a resolution. People need support, feedback given, and questions answered in all phases. Sometimes it’s a quick question, comment, or clarification around something weird or how to take their medication properly. But an appointment, whether that happens in a costly office visit or a real-time video visit, is just one 10 minute snippet in time. If we had the opportunity to blow up the concept of an appointment, and allow doctors and patients to communicate normally like we all do nowadays, diseases would be managed markedly differently. Doctors wouldn’t be forced to make split-second decisions (even guesses) around a diagnosis and how to manage it, and management could be far more conservative and less invasive. If, when I’m working with a patient and I’m on the fence about whether or not this is bacterial or viral and therefore may or may not need antibiotics, if I could just check-in quickly and easily with a patient over the next hours or days, I could choose a far more conservative route. This is just one example of many more.