Friday, August 25, 2006

Service Non-existent in Medical Industry

The idea of serving the customer is something lost on the medical industry.

The doctors usually do a good job treating you like a human being. At worst, they treat you as one of a long line of suffering beings that they've seen that day.

But as for the rest? The harpy administrators, the siren schedulers, the Labyrinthian phone systems, the waiting room of time consumption, not to mention the Byzantine insurance procedures, combine to form a patient's Twelve Herculean Labors.

We've had some awesome doctors over the years. Unfortunately, we've avoided or even left some of them due to horrible office experiences.

God forbid if you are late or have to cancel the day of your appointment. You'll possibly be charged the customary fee for a visit. But if the doctor is busy, and you show up early or on time, he may be late with no advance warning given to you by his office ahead of time or upon your arrival. You've taken time off from your job to be present for the appointment. It's a double whammy.

The doctor tells you that he needs to see you next week. The scheduler tells you there's nothing available. So you plead and argue with the scheduler while the doctor is busy attending the next patient.

One nurse continued to take my wife's height every visit. This was even though she had been coming to this particular office 2 to 3 times a week as requested. The nurse refused to crack open the file in her hand and must have suspected my wife was suffering from a rare vertical growth disorder. Nor were all the routine questions (with typically unchanging answers over the course of a couple of days) such as my wife having any allergies, current medications or the like dispensed with.

Many doctors, in order to spend more time on their core business of seeing patients, have outsourced their office operations. Unfortunately there seems to be little feedback allowed or encouraged that could improve this part of the system.

You could always switch doctors. Right?

Oh, wait. Not in the current HMO scheme of things forced on us by the Congress a couple of decades ago. Well, I guess I could always go off the HMO reservation. But at what increased cost to go it solo? Well, even if I was non-HMO, I'd still have to deal with the same old doctor office.

All-in-all, we have a good system of doctors and nurses in the US. The support system around them however leaves a lot to be desired.

The doctors are partially at fault here too. Their out-of-sight out-of-mind philosophy regarding the business end of their operations doesn't lend much in the way of service to their customers.

I hope in the future, in addition to regular scheduled check-ups and such, that doctors can work more with their clientele to make the experience much more friendly and user focused.

(And big government is not the answer to this sort of problem.)