GPs are seldom asked what they want from their patients – in fact nobody has ever asked me. I’m going to tell you anyway! You can choose to ignore this advice and your GP probably won’t mind at all. Part of the beauty of general practice is the unforeseen variety of every working day and that includes the mundane and sometimes pointless cases as well as the mysterious and sometimes serious cases.

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The perfect patient arrives a few minutes before their appointment is due and is (hopefully) seen on time. The perfect patient understands that if the GP is running late it’s usually because somebody seriously depressed or clutching their chest in pain has required a bit more attention earlier in the clinic. Indeed, the perfect patient knows that they themselves may be that unwell patient one day.

The perfect patient should certainly expect an apology from the GP if the clinic is running late.

Facts you may not have realised, number 1: Most conventional GP surgeries run on an average appointment duration of 10 minutes. This means that, after the pleasantries you have about 8 minutes. Yep, it’s crazy. You may now understand why, once a clinic is running late, it’s almost impossible to catch up. The perfect patient is aware of this and books a double or even a triple appointment if they know that they have complex needs or lots of problems to discuss.

Facts you may not have realised, number 2: If you have an uncommon illness, you may know more of the finer details about it than your GP can remember from medical school. A good GP, however, is not embarrassed by this fact. A good GP will have resources for very quickly researching your condition and their role is to use a wider understanding of medicine to help you.

Facts you may not have realised, number 3: Many GP consultations are totally unnecessary. There are vast numbers of appointments being used (at enormous cost to Medicare) by patients who don’t need to be seen in clinic. What’s even more shocking is that these patients don’t even want to go to the clinic… And the doctors don’t want them to come to the clinic!

Clinics the length and breadth of Australia are full to bursting. From Darwin to Hobart, Brisbane to Perth, patients are struggling to see their regular GP. Patients aren’t getting what they want and many are denied access to what they need. Thus the rise of the online medical certificate. There’s a start-up company called DrSicknote which has been saving Medicare money and freeing up GP appointments for over a year now- by providing medical certificates for minor illnesses, via consultation with an online doctor.

If you don’t feel you should be at work because of a minor illness like a cold or gastro- you need a medical certificate, but you feel it doesn’t warrant attending a GP surgery (perhaps you’re even starting to feel better already) – this GP thinks you should get in touch with drsicknote.com.au and keep the clinics free for people who need to be there. It costs $20 and you speak with a real online doctor who provides you with a real online medical certificate! All without leaving the comfort of your home!

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