I have a new doctor, whom I’ve been seeing for about a year. She’s great. She takes the time to talk with me about my life and about the things I can do to improve my health. She’s provided me with great care and appears to be quite competent at her job. But I’m thinking about looking for another doctor because her office staff is awful. The trouble is, however, that I left my last doctor for the same reason.
I’ve spent my life moving, and I had a son with a serious chronic illness, so I’ve had a lot of experience with a lot of doctors – and a lot of doctors’ office staffs. And almost all of them suck at customer service. The airhead behind the counter can’t be bothered to look up your latest test results. It’s a huge inconvenience if you have to reschedule an appointment. They will fax a prescription to your pharmacy, but they won’t do it today. No, you have to give them 48 hours for that. They make you fill out a 4-page form every time you go in “Just to make sure nothing has changed”, rather than bringing it up on the screen and asking you to verify it. (My father is still dead. And he still didn’t have Glaucoma.) And I don’t know about you, but I have never been thanked for my patronage. Never.
The doctors don’t have a clue as to what might be going badly out front, partly because they don’t want to know, and partly because patients don’t like to take up the doctor’s valuable time with that stuff, or they fear repercussions from the staff.
Yes, of course, there are exceptions. There are office managers who manage their teams well and create a customer-friendly environment. There are receptionists who have empathy for the patients who obviously don’t feel well, and who are stressed and worried about their health and about the financial strain this visit is causing. There are medical office systems that work to ease the burden on the patient. But those are extremely rare, in my experience, and my experience is pretty extensive.
And so, I won’t leave my doctor just yet. I’ll suffer through the abuse and neglect, because I don’t know of any viable alternatives. I won’t complain to the doctor because I fear repercussions. And I’ll pray for good health because that seems to be the best way to alleviate my pain.