Just fix the [deleted] phone — please!

This has nothing to do with prostate cancer in particular, but a lot to do with medical practices and the patient experience, so it’s probably going to interest at least some of our readers. So click here and pass it on to your doctor’s office after you’ve read it (if appropriate).


5 Responses

  1. I have been in Primary Care practice for almost 50 years (now retired). This study was done many times by many consultants over the years. Always concluded the same thing. You can be the greatest physician but If the patient experiences barriers you around seeing you that is what they remember.

    Nothing new here.

  2. Dear Bob:

    So why is it that the majority of medical practices still provide such appalling customer service after all these years? :O)

  3. Many reasons. Mostly it is personnel and costs. Staffing around peak times is a huge issue. Your examples of peak call volume at noon when medical offices close was on point. To have enough staff for the peaks means they do not have enough work off-peak. Most large systems went to automated call directors and we all know how frustrating those are.

    E-mail has been an enormous help to patients since they can get responses to the many non-urgent questions. However, young physicians are heavily burdened trying to answer e-mails on top of seeing a huge patient volumes. They spend their “lunch“ hour and every free moment answering e-mails. Some take the work home with them. It’s a conundrum. I watch my daughter who is in Pediatrics and I see the problem but not the solution.

  4. Methinks, Dear Sitemaster friend Mike, that you must have been running low on other topics so threw that in the pot. I suspect no matter how efficient a practice may be, from staff to physician, there will always be naysayers. We should just be thankful that we have them available to us!

  5. Dear Chuck:

    With respect, no, not at all.

    The actual costs associated with having someone on staff to answer the telephone in an efficient manner are actually relatively low by comparison with all of the other costs related to running an efficient medical practice. What is being signaled to me here is something that I have understood for years … which is that being a good physician does not necessarily make one a good businessperson or a good manager of others. If the phone isn’t getting answered in an efficient manner, it is a signal to me that there may be other inefficiencies within a medical practice. For example, it never fails to amaze me that many medical practices (a) don’t send me a bill for services until months after the actual services were rendered and (b) often, when I send them a payment, it doesn’t get deposited in the bank for weeks.

    Many, many prostate cancer patients are seeing at least one physician on a quarterly basis. If one is constantly irritated by the fact that one can’t communicate easily with the practice (let alone the doctor him- or herself) that isn’t exactly a signal that one is being given good care.

    By comparison, in an efficient practice one rarely has to spend more than 10 minutes or so in the waiting room, so quite how well furnished it is and whether it has the latest magazines available is really rather trivial.

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