Who’s Serving Who? Taking Responsibility for My Patient Experience

Dear Dr. Specialist, MD:medical symbol fail

I won’t be back to your office. Perhaps my intolerance is unreasonable, or maybe it is because I know how much better you, your staff, and your patients could all have it — and I want that for you.

I drove two hours to see you. Granted, I had some other things to do in town. You were my last appointment of the day, and I was to be yours. I was ten minutes early as that’s how I make sure I’m on time. After checking in I waited, and waited, and waited. For 42 minutes I waited at which point I returned to the reception window and asked a staff-member if they could predict when I might see you.

“Predict?” she replied with a roll of the eyes. “No.” “The doctor has three patients back there already, including an emergency we had to fit in.”

Me, astonished: “You’ve called no patients during the entire time I’ve been here. Does that mean those three people and the emergency patient were all already back there in treatment rooms when I checked in?”

“Yes,” she said, then perhaps sensing my astonishment said “but the doctor promises to stay here as long as it takes to see all of his patients including you.”

That’s when I left. Why? Because your staff could have been far more transparent when I checked in leaving me a choice about how I spend my evening.

It became evident to me I was in your waiting room for your business’s convenience and that my convenience was of no concern. That sounds harsh I know. If my time and attention were important to you, your staff would have told me when I checked in that you were 30, 45, 60 minutes or more behind and that I might want to re-schedule if I didn’t want to wait.

Even better, they might have called me even before I even arrived when they knew you were delayed. Delta does that when my plane is delayed.

I chose my current general physician based on his reputation as a doctor as well as his office’s reputation for service. They call it “partnering” with their patients. I’ve also heard it called a “Lean Practice Model.”

In my GP’s office, there is no reception window separating the staff from the patients. Instead receptionists sit at a desk facing the doorway so they notice me and welcome me as I walk in. They proactively check me in and then tell me whether the doctor is on schedule or not, and if not, what it means.

My usual waiting room wait isn’t long enough to flip through a magazine. My longest wait was maybe 10 minutes.

So, Dr. Specialist MD, perhaps I’m now spoiled. However, I’ve learned it is actually easier  and more fun for you, your staff, and your business to run a customer-oriented practice — so that’s my new standard.

Click to Tweet: It is easier and more fun for your business to run a customer-oriented practice.

I still cherish our 20-year friendship and remain grateful for your excellent diagnosis and successful surgery seven years ago. I’d be delighted to support you through the process of improving your patient’s experience with your office. Otherwise I won’t be back.

My very best,

Christopher signature

What would you have done if you were me in this story? What’s your best and worst doctor’s office story? Let me know.

You get what you accept. Demand more. Raise your sights and expectations with the Leadership Gift Program.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Responsibility on 08/22/2012 07:26 am
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