This morning, I was looking for a topic to write about when I came across this article published on KevinMD: “Why do patients hate going to the doctor?” Dr Maheswari Raja did a great job analyzing and then answering this question and I highly recommend that you read it.
As you know, I practiced for over 35 years. My staff and I worked at making Lake Zurich Family Treatment Center into a medical home where you could feel safe and respected. For the most part, we succeeded. Like Dr Raja, patients often put me on notice that they hated going to the doctor; and, like Dr. Raja, I took offense.
Since transitioning from doctor to patient, I realize why going to the doctor might be a hateful experience and have actually voiced that sentiment to Renee. From the time, I’m given a stack of papers to fill out and having my most precious commodities documented (insurance care, Medicare card) to the time the medical office assistant rooms me, the doctor in me is assessing the staff and office protocols. The patient in me just wants to be seen, be heard, and be cared for!
By the time the doctor (or nurse practitioner/physician assistant) enters the exam room, I’m ready to leave. The system has gotten on my nerves and often that affects what happens during the remainder of my visit. Given the fact that your doc’s office has to have your insurance information and a host of legal documents allowing your physician to treat you, changing the registration process is almost impossible.
The vast majority of practices have the ability to register you online, allowing you to fill out their forms in the comfort of your home. Unfortunately, even I forget to go online prior to an office visit. Of course, patients forget to do their homework. After all, they usually go to the doc because they don’t feel good or they worry that they have some dread disease. When you don’t feel good, often you don’t feel like doing anything.
So, what can a doc and his/her office do to make the office experience less hateful? Dr. Norwicky, my new dermatologist, and his staff have found the answer. On our very first visit, it felt as if they knew me and we were old friends. Prior to my coming to the office, the office manager had reviewed my internet profile. The staff was ready for me, cordially inviting me into their home and treating me as an honored guest. (In subsequent visits, I have found that everyone receives the red carpet treatment.)
The doc quickly displayed all the characteristics of a great doc that I’ve laid out in prior articles. He listened to me without interrupting. He answered my questions in a reassuring and caring manner. His immediate and future plans for my care were explained in detail. He answered Renee’s concerns as well. I walked out of his office confident that I was in the right doc’s hands. Every visit since that first visit has been the same. His office should be the prototype for Healthcare 3.0!
As I’m writing this article, it dawns on me that, while I worked to provide my patients with a medical home they could call their own, the hospitality they would receive on coming to my family home, in many cases, was missing. Further, what set Dr Norwicky and his staff apart was that, in their office, hospitality was evident from day one. Congrats, Dr. Norwicky.
Joke of the day:
Doctor: “Nurse, how is that little girl doing who swallowed 10 quarters last night?”
Nurse: “No change yet.”