I have been a patron of a medical practice in my hometown for more than 17 years. The office is conveniently located to my house and office which for me is a top priority. The location is the only consistent thing about the practice. I have had three different doctors up and leave the practice over the years while I have remained loyal to the location.
Last week I went to the doctor essentially to extend a prescription and interview one of the ‘new’ doctors as I had not been in the office for over a year (kind of missed my annual checkup when my previous doctors up and left). The doctor mentioned he had been with the practice for more than two years. Who knew? Not me for sure.
I have no intention in this post to write a diatribe on the medical profession in general. But I do think the aspect of customer service (or lack thereof) is notable when discussing one’s health. All my previous doctors in this practice have left and entered the world of ‘concierge’ care. This is where each individual family member pays a flat yearly fee for 24/7 access to a doctor with no waiting. It works outside of insurance for many of the consultations and the reason the doctors enter into concierge care in the first place is their nightmare of dealing with healthcare insurance in general.
One problem with concierge care is that my family is healthy. Between the 4 of us I don’t think there have been more than two total visits to the doctor in over a year. So aside from the substantial cost of engaging in concierge care it would be total waste of money.
So what are we left with? A medical practice that is conveniently located for my life, as well as one that has all of our medical records. When I call even during what they term as normal business hours I get a voice mail system. I really don’t like this when it comes to my health. I often have to call multiple times to actually talk with someone who has a clue. I find the people in the practice (receptionists, nurses, and doctors to be a bit detached and distant). This could be just the practice I go to but I sense it might be endemic of the entire situation as a whole.
At one point I had to wait ‘five’ minutes for the doctor to come in. Twenty minutes later the nurse walked in and said sorry the doctor was running late. Really? The doctor seemed ok and devoid of other better options I will likely soldier on with doctor #4 in this practice.
Why couldn’t the doctors reach out to patients to tell them of the changes and their interest in retaining me and my family as patients? This new doctor had never seen anything regarding my history until he opened the file while I was sitting in the room. However I had done search on the doctor before I walked in and had an idea of where he went to school, his history and credentials.
I talked to a new client prospect last week on the phone for the first time. Their first question was had I looked at their website. I said yes of course and wouldn’t they have been disappointed had I not done so? They liked that a lot and we had a great and productive conversation since they did not have to spend unnecessary time explaining the business model.
It’s no secret that President Obama has taken on a major issue with regard to healthcare reform. The question is can he do anything about reforming the behavior of the medical profession in general. It borders on the outrageous as far as I am concerned.
Am I wrong here?