Waiting Lists: good for the ego, not so good for anything else

Waiting Lists: good for the ego, not so good for anything else

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By Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist

I was looking at a number of potential sites to set up practice in 2004. One senior rheumatology colleague was not keen to have me practice in the same location as him. His worry was that his 8-week waiting list would dwindle.

It seems that waiting times can be good for the ego.

Male specialists can also tend to be territorial beasts.

A long waiting list is of course not good for patients. It’s also not good for the referring doctor who has requested some help, and not good for a healthcare system if the system is serious about preventing complications and alleviating suffering.

Unfortunately, waiting lists are a reality in many areas with no clear solutions. Think hospital operating lists. Or the difficulty of providing adequate health services in rural settings. I don’t have sensible answers for these.

In 21st century Sydney however, waiting lists should not be nurtured.

From my perspective, whether the waiting list to see me is 3-4 weeks, or 1-2 days, I earn the same income. More importantly, I am less stressed in needing to keep squeezing patients into my lunchtime or at the end of the day, and I can provide a better service to both referring doctors and our shared patients.

In practice, all doctors end up too busy and the above goal is practically difficult, unless you set out to avoid this from an early stage.

At BJC Health, we have a deliberate policy of recruiting talented new staff and in developing a collaborative style of practice, rather than a competitive workplace.

If I cannot see a patient early enough, my colleague will. If my colleague is away at a conference or holiday, I will have full access to the patient’s medical files, and will be able to sort out any problems which develop during the colleague’s absence.

By having a range of colleagues with different interests and skills, we are also able to steer a patient to the best care available, even if that means it is with another doctor or allied health professional.

Working together. Shared notes, shared care. Shorter waiting lists. Connected Care. All hopefully leading to better outcomes for both you and me.

Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health.

BJC Health provides a connected care multidisciplinary team philosophy to deliver positive lifestyle outcomes through a holistic approach to those with degenerative & inflammatory arthritis, tendon injury and lifestyle diseases. Our clinics are located in Parramatta, Chatswood and Brookvale. Contact us.

This blog focuses on arthritis-related diseases, healthcare in general, and our Connected Care philosophy.

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