It truly is a strange new world. While Covid-19 has devastated the world we live in, it has, in a perverse sense, improved the delivery of medical care. Let me explain. First, let me state the obvious. I was a provider of medical care for 34 years. When I set up my office, my goal was to deliver the best of care, promptly and efficiently on a walk-in basis.
I failed! “Prompt and efficient” went out the window with lengthy registration processes, insurance demands and government regulation. I dreamed of creating a system that would allow a patient to walk into my office, be seen immediately and leave with a smile on his/her face. While I knew it wasn’t possible, I strived to create such a system.
What I couldn’t accomplish, Covid did. Yep, last week I went to the surgeon’s office to have a curative office surgery. My appointment was at 11 o’clock. I registered from home the day before. I entered the lobby at 10:45 as directed by her office staff, had my temperature taken, signed two papers and was in the surgical suite at 11. The doc came in at 11:08 and I was out by 11:42. I had a smile on my face that no one saw due to my mask.
Yesterday, I went to the dentist for fillings. Again, I registered the day before online. As instructed, I texted the office to let them know I was in the parking lot. At 9:20, I received a text asking me to come to the front door as they were ready for me. I paid in advance as I do not have dental insurance and was in the room at 9:30. The dentist came in at 9:40 and filled two teeth. While I don’t like the business practices of this practice, I understand them.
Today, I have an appointment with the GI specialist. Yes, I’m not aging well. Again, I’ve preregistered and fully expect that they will be on time and smiling. So how did Covid accomplish what I could not? Covid’s 500,00 death toll, the six foot social distancing rules and the masking mandates have scared the crap out of everyone.
I used to scratch my head and wonder why many of my patients came in so early for such trivial, self-limited illnesses. Those patients no longer come in. Telemed has supplanted office visits. While I loved seeing my patients no matter whether they should have been seen or not, I, like other physicians, would be scared to see them in a Covid world. So, the volume of office patients has decreased. The lobbies of the physicians I’m seeing are empty due to Covid. In most cases, less demand means more availability and happier patients. And, when it takes a month to get an appointment with a super specialist, people are more understanding as the staff can now blame “Covid Precautions.”
Finally, the software companies have gotten their acts together and provided working platforms for preregistration, making the necessity of doing 20 minutes of paperwork in the office a thing of the past. I’ve also noted that the front desk personnel in my doctors’ offices are much friendlier and relaxed than mine was. I should tell you that my staff was the friendliest, caring individuals you would ever want to meet. At least that’s how they were the first 15 minutes of every day. After that were yelled at because patients had to fill out paperwork or because they had to inform patients of overdue bills or because there was a long wait (all things they couldn’t control), they tended to be less friendly!
Hopefully, Covid can be conquered and eradicated. Hopefully, when Covid is gone, it will have left behind a better way of delivering care. I never thought I would say this, but Telemed is an efficient and appropriate of delivering care for the more minor, self-limiting illnesses. Using technology to register patients, in advance, will shorten your time in the doctor’s office. And, hopefully, when the masks come off, there will be more smiles.
Nonetheless, when I go to the doctors’ offices, I carry paperwork. Today will be my first visit with this gastroenterologist. I will give his nurse print outs of my medication list, past medical history, social history, allergies and review of systems (my complaints). I also have copies of my former GI’s notes and studies. The problem with computers is that, on occasion, they crash. Paper doesn’t.
The moral of today’s article is that, if you can find something good in something bad, the bad is not quite as bad. The second lesson is that, when you do go to the doctor’s office, give them a summary of your health history on paper. It may be invaluable and, perhaps, save your life.
Here is your daily joke and some music.
A woman and baby were in The doctors examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the babies first exam.
The doctor arrived, and examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed.
‘Breast-fed,’ she replied.
‘Well, strip down to your waist,’ the doctor ordered.
She did. He pinched her nipples, pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination.
Motioning to her to get dressed, the doctor said,
‘No wonder this baby is underweight. You don’t have any milk.’ ‘I know,’ she said, ‘I’m his Grandma, but I’m glad I c