Why do we have to wait days, weeks, or even months for a doctor's appointment? Such delays have become so routine that they seem normal. But if some of the most popular restaurants can take same-day reservations, why should run-of-the-mill doctors routinely make patients wait and wait and wait?
In fact, they shouldn't. The challenge of reducing waiting times is a classic queuing problem in operations research. Professionals in all sorts of service industries, from restaurants and hotels to banks and department stores, have faced it in one form or another. Most of them handle the juggling of clients far better than physicians, despite the lower stakes. Mounting evidence shows that doctors can see patients quickly, too—even in perennially backlogged practices—and that when they do, they benefit themselves and the people they treat.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Open Access Scheduling in Medical Practice