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Getting the most from your visit

As large as Riccarton Clinic is there is a danger that patients become lost in the number of services on offer and aren't able to make the most of their visit. The following guidance should help.

Posted on 16 March 2015 |

It is hoped that this information is useful to you in achievng the best use of your time and money, whilst also providing an insight into some aspects of your visit you may not be aware of.

Patients come to the doctors for a variety of reasons but they can be broken down into two categories: routine and urgent. Routine visits are best for long-term, ongoing health issues such as diabetes or asthma. With long-term conditions it is proven that seeing the same doctor (or nurse) each time really benefits you. Urgent visits, by their very name, suggest that you can't wait to book to see your normal doctor but will see the first doctor available. At Riccarton Clinic we offer both types via appointments and the drop-in clinic.

Try to book an appointment whenever possible. At Riccarton Clinic we book at 15 minute intervals. Some clinics only allow 10 minutes for a visit, and it was not long ago at all, that 7 minute appointments were the norm (UK). If you think you will require a longer appointment (then you're probably correct), you can book a double slot but this will cost twice the normal fee.

Remember that in the 15 minute slot the doctor may spend some time reviewing your records, results, prior consults, and writing referral letters. An average consultation creates about 5 minutes of administrative work, and some of this must be done during the consultation. We also spend considerable time 'behind the scenes' reviewing records, results, hospital letters and so on.

A grumble we sometimes hear is that “I was only with the doctor for a few minutes”. Try to remember that rather than paying for a 15 minute block of time, your appointment is for you to benefit from the doctor's skills and knowledge.

Aim to arrive a few minutes early for your appointment. This gives you a buffer if the roads are busy or our car park is full or if there is paperwork to complete before your consult. You may even get called early if the doctor is running ahead of time! If you are late for your appointment, you will miss out on getting your full “slot”, as to keep to time and be fair to others, the doctor will need to finish at the expected time. If you are very late (more than ten minutes), you will be asked to rebook, or to sit and wait for the next available doctor to see you. This could mean a long wait so running to time is important!

Dress appropriately for your consult. Remember you may need to partly undress for an examination. For example – if you have a sore knee, attending in shorts or baggy pants, is easier than skin tight jeans and boots. This time saved gives you longer to discuss your concerns with the doctor. A urine sample may also be required. If this is likely, then ensure you have not just been to the toilet prior to the visit.

At the beginning of the consultation, please make the doctor aware of the issues you want to address. In general, it is not possible to address lists of ailments effectively. We need to provide quality care in the time we have, this may mean booking additional appointments for additional issues. Although that's more costly, dealing with issues carefully and properly, without rushing, will give you more time to absorb what the doctor says and may actually return you to full health sooner. The doctor will choose with you which is the most important concern to address.

For example, if you have a long term medical condition or conditions, and are attending fora 3 monthly review and medication prescription, we would want to devote the bulk of the consultation to this alone. If you require a driving licence medical, this should be booked into a separate appointment. If you require a smear test, this should be booked into a separate appointment, and so on.

During your consult, try to keep your conversation relevant to the matter at hand. Although long stories can be interesting and amusing, they simply take up time we could otherwise be spending on getting you sorted!

Cell phones are best on silent or turned off. Please refrain from using your phone whilst with the doctor or nurses. It is impolite, and distracting both for you and the doctor or nurse you are seeing.

Ensure our Reception team have your correct contact details, including an up-to-date cell phone number. We sometimes text information to patients, please let us know if you do not wish to receive text messages from us.

If you are not able to attend your appointment or if you no longer need a booked appointment then please phone to cancel it. This will avoid wasted time trying to contact you and will allow another patient to take the appointment slot. We reserve the right to apply a charge if you do not turn up for a booked appointment.

If your English is poor, then consider bringing someone who can help interpret for you.

Our prices are all clearly displayed. In general, any servies additional to the basic consult will be charged for, although there are sometimes funding streams available that can make the visit free. If you are uncertain of the cost of a service then please ask.