- You call to make an appointment and are kept on hold long enough to have a light meal before you are finally connected to the right person;
- Once you get to the place, they have really uncomfortable seating in the waiting areas, and you have another long wait before your name is finally called;
- When at last it’s your turn, one person asks a series of questions, then you’re handed off to another person who asks you the exact same questions and you’re thinking “don’t you people talk to each other?!”
- Finally, you get to the person who holds your outcome in their hopefully capable hands, but they spend so little time with your case, seem annoyed by you having more than 1-2 questions or needing more than 5 minutes of their time, and treat you more like a widget than a person, causing you to leave feeling more like you bothered them than received a vital service for which you paid dearly…
But it’s not – well…it is…but what I just described is also the typical experience when visiting…
Yes, the profession whose purported goal is to ease our suffering, heal our wounds, and otherwise make us feel better, has deteriorated to the point of such poor practice that, in too many cases, the DMV does a better job.
I've spent so much time with doctors over the past 6 years that I feel like we’re dating (caring for first my father then my mother and now for myself as I handle my RA), that I’ve done much advance reconnaissance for you, my fellow Boomers who, if not already will most likely one day be in this same situation, whether for yourself or a loved one.
Here’s what I do to combat poor medical care, and recommend you do as well; if we all do these 5 simple things, such patient unfriendly practices will improve:
- When making your appointment, tell the staff that you expect the doctor to be running relatively on time; you don’t mind a short wait but that’s all your schedule can accommodate – you’re busy, too
- Once there, refuse to wait more than 15 -20 minutes; unless they've fit you in for an emergency, tell the receptionist you’re leaving, but you’ll give them one more try - if the wait is longer than 15-20 minutes the next time, you won’t be back – if anyone has a problem with this, find another doctor
- Don’t be shy about voicing your dissatisfaction with your experience, from uncomfortable seating and the need to repeat yourself again and again, to your feeling that you’re being rushed by the doctor; tell the office manager, and the doctor
- Don't accept mediocrity; your life or that of your loved one literally depends on it. As with any profession, medical practitioners span the spectrum from excellent to poor - for those of us living in Florida, more fall on the lower end of the scale than the upper, unfortunately; this means "firing" bad doctors and searching until you find the few good ones, which can be time consuming, I know. To cut down time consumed a bit, do some initial weeding: use referrals from those you trust (eg folks who you know to be seekers of quality care) and internet services that provide patient feedback; assess the doctor's office structure (eg is it a huge practice with separate, usually siloed, departments for every little thing; do staff care, listen, and convey questions for the doctor accurately) - staff and office management are an excellent indication of the boss's style.
- Finally, do your homework on each condition for which you seek medical attention prior to your appointment; learn about the latest treatments, other conditions that have your same symptoms, etc.; be clear on how your body handles meds (I'm sensitive to 'em so need much less than the average Joe); remember that docs today treat us with a one-size-fits all approach rather than as individuals with unique physiology, as that's faster and easier - insist they take your specific needs into account.
You have been officially alerted....