Friday, January 31, 2014

I want my health care team to woo me

Image courtesy of artur84/

Scratch that - I want my health care team to provide professional, quality care. 

Since having my son, my trips to the health clinic have increased by probably 1,000 percent. What used to be an annual appointment with my doctor is now a mandatory screening every few months for check-ups and shots, not to mention all of the appointments in between for rashes and colds. I'm convinced we are single-handedly keeping the clinic in business. A feeling I probably share with most parents.

The problem with going to the health clinic so often is that the kinks in their armor start to show. When you go once a year, the extra long wait isn't such a big deal. Or the rushed feeling you get from your doctor is something you brush off because he's having a rough day. However, once you realize this isn't an exception to the rule, but more along the lines of standard practice, it starts to rub.

Somewhere along the way, health care providers have forgotten that they should be providing great customer service in addition to great care. I'm sure they have lots of excuses - we're busy focusing on the numbers, I told her to smile more, I'm making you healthy, isn't that enough? - but I'm tired of buying them. No more.

From now on, I'm holding my providers and their staff accountable. If your staff has poor social skills, get them to a customer service class stat. When I come to the clinic, it's because I'm sick or my child is sick (which may as well be me because as the primary caregiver I'm exhausted now, too) and we want to be pampered. Not even pampered. How about treated with respect? How about a helping hand? You aren't sick. In fact, you're being PAID to help me. So how about throwing some pleasantries out there while you're at it? And I'm sorry if you're having a bad day, but you're at work so suck it up. Is that unfair? Hardly. Besides, didn't you get into health care because you like helping people? 

Once I've been checked in, how about giving me status updates when the provider is running behind? I shouldn't have to pull a number, wait in line, go back to the front desk and ask what's going on because I've been waiting for 30 minutes on top of the extra 15 minutes (because of course, you're supposed to get there early or lose your appointment time) and no one has bothered to say anything to me. And I know you see me. I'm the one with the fussy baby who is miserable and sick and being exposed to even more germs because people in the waiting room don't know how to cough into their arm or wear a mask to stop the spread of germs.

And what the hell, since the staff up front is going to improve how about some tips for the back of the house? To the nurse who runs our vital signs - please keep it professional. I'm not your sweetie or your honey or Chicken Little (ah yes, a nurse decided to call me this while I was in triage for labor and delivery. I'm so sorry I have a low pain tolerance, back contractions and in a few hours will push out a 9 pound baby. Please give me a cruel nickname so I feel ashamed during this experience). Oh and my baby is not a "fatty" either. Can you imagine the backlash if I started using my own nicknames? Do you think I'd still be a patient if I started calling the provider quarter pounder? 

Hey and just for good measure, let's make sure we have competent doctors on hand. I can forgive a few bedside manner issues in their case IF they know what they're doing. Unfortunately, it never seems to work out that way. At our last appointment not only did the doctor refer to my son as a "she", the doctor also prescribed a dosage of medicine that was TWICE the amount it should've been. What's more, the pharmacy didn't catch it until I asked why it was such a large dose for such a young child. Where are the checks and balances? Where is the attention to detail? You can't act like a complete tool AND be incompetent. It doesn't work that way. 

I know what you're thinking. If you're that miserable, go somewhere else. This is our third clinic in 9 months. The problem is more widespread than you'd think and honestly, at what point do we say enough is enough? I shouldn't have to continually move to get quality health care. Our health care providers should be providing a basic standard of care to all of their patients. I'm not asking for caviar in the lobby. I'm not even asking for a water cooler with paper cups. I'm asking for competent providers and civil, if not friendly, staff that keep it professional. 

Am I completely off-base here?

I don't think so.



  1. {\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
    {\fonttbl\f0\fnil\fcharset0 ArialMT;}

    \f0\fs26 \cf2 \cb3 \expnd0\expndtw0\kerning0
    \outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 Jen, sorry your experience was so bad. It's nice to see this view point. I try hard to give every family good quality care when I see them but I know several providers who are quick in and out. I hated private practice because they do push you to see a certain number! I couldn't do my best that way. If we hadn't have moved, I would have quit my last job anyway because of it. Every office has these issues infortunately and the only way to fix it is be less busy, but in peds the reimbursement is terrible so they push numbers. Plus there are so many patients who need seen. Military is another issue of some lazy folks! Don't get me started! Anyways. I'd be happy to help with any post visit questions, medication advice or just a sounding board because I know it all too well!}

    1. Thanks, I appreciate the offer! I think the care would be a lot better if they had more staff, but I know that's like trying to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (never gonna happen). And I realize there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes, but this should be like Oz. I shouldn't feel their stress or pressure, you know? At this point, I'm just trying to stay on my toes to make sure they don't miss anything!