De huisarts or huisdokter is similar to a primary care physician or family doctor. In the Netherlands, you go to the huisarts nearest to your home. This means mine is literally up the street and around the corner; I can walk there in 5 minutes. In the States, I would have to drive up to half an hour (depending on traffic) to go from home to my doctor.
The huisarts is very efficient for several reasons:
1. Caters to a small and specific area (there are several huisarts/huisdokter in my town each in a different neighborhood). This means they are close to their patients and have less patients to see which means more time is available for each patient.
2. When you make an appointment they see you pretty much at that time (give or take a few minutes)
3. The doctor can send your prescription directly to the pharmacy or apotheek in Dutch
4. The pharmacy is often next door to the huisarts
Here is a brief recounting of my first experience.
Two days before my appointment:
Me: Hello, I would like to make an appointment to see the doctor.
Huisarts: We have an opening available at 8:30 on Friday.
Me: Sounds good. I will take it.*
Huisarts: You now have an appointment at 8:30 on Friday. See you then.
Day of my appointment:
I arrive early for my appointment and take a seat in the already full waiting room. Within 5-10 minutes the waiting room is empty because all patients have been called. At my appointment time, I am called back by the doctor. We enter her office which has desk, a computer, and an exam table. She asks about any medical concerns, performs the exam, and boom done. Total time: 20 minutes.
If only everything in my life could be so efficient.
*I probably could have gotten a different time but I am used to the US where if you don’t that the first time they offer you can be waiting for weeks or longer.