Thursday, August 03, 2006

Doctors at your beck and call?

…What’s beck? Beckoning?

…Whatever it is, HA has found many doctors aren’t into it.

…Writing in the New York Times (June 24, 2006), Milt Freudenheim tells about some mythical, unicorn-like creatures who take time with you, return calls, and are available to help when you are sick or hospitalized.

…As the story goes, they are feeling the competitive breath of walk-in drugstore clinics and urgent cares on their necks. Medicine, this story maintains, is becoming more consumer-oriented.

…A spokesperson for the American Academy of Family Physicians calls this a trend.

…The Academy is sending $8 million worth of consultants into the field to suggest improvements in patient care to doctors.

…The American College of Physicians is also recommending patient-centric care.

…One doctor interviewed has a policy called QuickSick in which patients can call in the morning and get seen at lunch hour, when they can take off work conveniently.

….HA is ALWAYS saying, why are the doctors closed for the Lunch Two-Hour, when that is when people can leave the office and come over?

…Instead of overbooking so they won’t have one unbilled second (even if patients have
to bear the brunt and wait an hour or more), some docs are leaving 70% of their schedules unbooked for sick people.

…Some docs were afraid they would lose money this way, but learned that when they gave patients enough time to discuss everything, they came up with problems the doctors could charge for treating. It evened out.

…Some docs let you make appts online. Others have an online system where you can check and see if they are running late. Patients can also see if someone cancelled and if they have an urgent problem, can take that appt.

…Of course, some docs are also taking steps to rein in the drugstore clinics, saying they are run by nurses and need to be overseen by physicians.

…HA spent the better part of a week, at least in terms of mental energy, trying to ask her primary physician a question on the phone. Was finally told to put it in writing. Then they said come in for the answer.

…Uh, a call would have done it?

…HA decided if the question was so unimportant to the doctor it could wait until she had to go for some other reason.

…Of course, the first thing he will have to cure is HA’s sarcasm.


Bill Thomasson said...

Some time ago I read that some docs are setting up a system that guarantees you an appointment the same day you call. If a lot of patients want an appointment that day, the docs simply stay until they're all seen.

What the docs like about the system is that more often than not there aren't that many patients on a given day and our friendly docs can go home early.

Star said...

That would be your friendly but broke docs? :-)