WHEN WILL THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY JOIN AT LEAST THE 20TH CENTURY?

When I go to a doctor’s office, I see: a computer, which they are either consulting or entering information into; speaking into a recorder to have notes transcribed; PDAs on which they can send prescriptions to my pharmacy and smart phones that they sometimes “have to take the call” on. So, why do they shut patients out of it?

Perhaps eighteen months ago, when I was applying for Medicare, I also wanted to consider an Advantage Plan. Now, there must be 50 of such Plans available where I live. So, I contacted each of my Health Care Providers and asked for a list of which Plans they are in the Network for, or to direct me to the listing on their web site. Is common sense too much to expect?

In every case, I was told that they are in many Networks and asked me which ones I was considering. When I told each that the most efficient solution for a patient was to find out the list of the various Plans each provider uses, and choose where there is an overlap. The billing person or department of each and every office told me that they do not have a list. I find that hard to believe.

Some time ago, I underwent Moh’s Surgery, an office procedure where they carve out a bit of skin cancer. So, the next day, the constriction bandage, which is supposed to hold tight to the (in my case) nose, was not very tight. I called the doctor’s office and found that he was at another one of their offices. Finally, after not knowing what was going on for an hour or so, I reached a Physician’s Assistant who told me to just put a Band-Aid on it. Simple enough; however, I didn’t appreciate being in the dark for some time.

More recently, I had an outpatient operation on my ear and, the next day, a bloody sponge pad fell out of the bandages wrapped around my head. I had the ENT’s Email address and sent him a message around 8:00 AM, he responded at 9:00 on his iPhone. He told me to come see him in Miami at 11:00 AM. I don’t believe that most of that doctor’s patients have Email access. I believe that I do because I offer him advice on his investment portfolio. Either way, at least having access reduced the anxiety immensely.

Many doctors today work out of more than one office; but, I believe that they could offer a little bit of personal assistance and courtesy. That is especially the case just after a patient has had a procedure or operation. Is it too much to ask for a web site where patients can leave messages? Or a telephone number, which a P/A would check every hour? Besides reducing patients anxiety, that might make their practice more efficient. Calling the office doesn’t work because the phones often don’t tyake calls before hourse, messages are not returned promptly and you’re often talking to a clerk.

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