June 25, 2015
I really feel old. I find myself reminiscing about the “good old days” a lot recently. I’m afraid that modern medicine has become way too automated and impersonal! The computer seems to run everything and it is a poor substitute for human judgment, contact and empathy.
Yesterday, I had a patient who was in trouble. His doctor was a University professor and expert in his illness. In the “good old days,” I would call his doc to confer on the best course of action and my call would be taken by a human. Yesterday, I got:
“Push one for English and two for Spanish.” This, in itself, bothered me. I was calling a university in Chicago, not Mexico.
“Push 1 if you are a physician or calling from a physician’s office.” I pushed 1 again.
“Our operators are busy, we value your services, please hold.” I heard the same message for the next 10 minutes. There was no option to leave a message for the doc. My phone tracts how long I am on a call and I’m not exaggerating. My patient needed help so I stayed on the line.
The doctor’s secretary answered and would not get the doc. “She’s in clinic. I’ll have her call you.” Four and a half hours later the doc calls; and, unfortunately, I missed the call. The doc left her office number leaving me no choice but to call back the same number I had such a bad experience with earlier.
Guess what happened. Yep, I was placed on eternal hold and waited 15 minutes until the doc finally answered. The pity is that this super specialist knows her phone system sucks but can’t do anything about it and frankly sounded like she could give a crap about it. Apparently, she is employed by the university and takes no responsibility for the negative effects on patient care her phone system causes.
I miss the “good old days” when docs were employed by their patients and could be reached by “dialing” a rotary phone and took responsibility for their offices and patient care.
On a side note, when I bought my phone system, the vendor told me I was nuts for not buying an automated attendant with my system. I’m glad I didn’t listen! A human answers my phones and always will!