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Sitting in the Doctor’s Lounge

    • 13 posts
    January 11, 2007 1:24 PM EST

    OH MAN!!!

    This is one of my all-time pet peeves, which has now started to get even worse.

    Rich mentioned "courtesy."

    Anyone else noticed that doctors have now begun charging a "courtesy fee" if you are late or inadvertantly miss an appointment. Some are reasonably targeting flagrant abusers who never call, and even offer a certain amount of grace cancellations.

    But not all of them. Some of them start immediately.

    By & large tho, anything less than 24 hours notice is considered "missing."

    Unfortunately, in my line of work, if I have a client having system issues, that`s priority #1. Because a doctor`s appointment for myself will always take a back seat to servicing my customers if they are in need.

    Yet, there is no reciprocity for the hours I`ve sat, listening to some inane muzak, all to get a scant 5-10 minutes with a doctor. I can`t tell you how tempted I have been to send an invoice for my "courtesy fee" when I`m stuck there, unable to service my own clients.

    Do I sound pissed? You betcha!

    But in the spirit of helpfulness, here`s my suggestion:

    Having an automated call system to leave appointment reminders is a great tool for a medical practice, but that`s really only scratching the surface of what a call system could do.

    By integrating that call system more fully with the medical office`s appointment system, patients could be contacted automatically if the schedule is either behind or AHEAD a certain threshold.

    For example, if there was a cancellation earlier in the day, I might be able to come in before my scheduled time if I were contacted & presented with that option. Or, as Rich said...if I knew they were running an hour late, I could get a decent amount of work done, rather than being stuck in a waiting room.

    That can open up a lot of other customer relationship opportunities too.

    For example, I wouldn`t mind if the doctor`s office called & asked if I could postpone or reschedule a routine checkup or some other trivial visit if they were slammed by a bunch of really sick patients, especially children.

    See, I`m a parent & there`s nothing more important than getting in right away to see a doctor when one of our kids is sick. So, in the spirit of "paying it forward," I would be more than happy to surrender my spot for someone in worse shape, knowing that prolly when the time came, that same kind of procedure would work to our benefit.

    That could be something that could be part of our records. "OK to request reschedule."

    As a patient, a doctor taking to time to think about this kind of stuff is the kind of doctor I want. Because it tells me that practitioner realizes that good healthcare is, in actuality, a partnership between doctor & patient. Ad they definitely are thinking of their patients needs, while also trying to make their practice as efficient as possible.

    That`s win-win, which is never a bad thing.

    chrisrue2007-1-11 19:28:9

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    Christopher Rue MCSE, MCSAM / Black Warrior Technology, LLC / Solutions That Build Your Business

    • 0 posts
    January 11, 2007 12:49 PM EST

    Thanks, Rich, for this great topic!!

    The worst one I had was when I took my son to the dentist last November.  The appointment was 3:00pm so we got there at 2:50pm, thinking we`d just have to wait for 10 minutes.    The nurse did not call us until 4pm and once we were in, dentist was nowhere to be found.  By 5pm, I ran out of games to play with my son; ran out of songs to sing to him; I got up, really annoyed, and asked for the dentist.  5 minutes later, the dentist walked in and asked my son to open his mouth then said to him, "OKay, I am very busy today so I need you to be a big boy, don`t act like a baby because I don`t have a time for that."

    I said, "Excuse me?"

    Dentist:" That`s right, and mom out of the room. You get out so I can treat your son."

    I picked my son up from the chair and said to her, "Don`t you ever talk to me or my son like this. We`re leaving." 

    I went to the front desk, which by then I was furious, complained to the owner of the office. 

    Of course we never went back to that horrible place again. And the only reason I stayed that long was because my son hasn`t lost the baby tooth but another tooth had already pop out; I wasn`t sure if it needed to be extract as they did to me when I was a kid! 

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    Life isn`t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

    • 0 posts
    January 12, 2007 2:01 PM EST

     I told her my time was as valuable as the doctor`s and that I would be billing her for my time. She was shocked. Said I could not do this. I said, "watch me."

      Awesome!!

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    Life isn`t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

    • 20 posts
    January 19, 2007 4:38 PM EST

    There is a lot I could say about the most recent dentist my husband and I went to. I will sum it up by saying we aren`t going back. The longer story involves being painless walking in for a cleaning, waiting 45 min. after the appt. started and watching the office workers fight and half of them are wearing t-shirts rather than scrubs or professional clothing. And of course, DH needs fillings. They didn`t know how much to charge him at the second appt. Two months later, and two months after DH is feeling a lot of pain from 6 fillings and NO PAIN RELIEVER, we get a bill. Uh... I really don`t want to pay it. We are going to fight tooth and nail, because we thought we were paid up when we walked out the door.

    Next time I need a cleaning, I`m asking friends and family for recommendations first! And of course, if anyone asks, I`ll be sure to tell them not to go to this particular dentist.

    So... maybe I`ll tell the dentist`s office that we charge for watching DH suffer... lol. Like I said before, neither one of us was in pain before we went. We should have bolted when we saw the lack of professionalism in the office!

    • 343 posts
    January 11, 2007 4:10 PM EST

    Rich,

    I think this is a universal problem in most major cities. I know they are busy. I know emergencies come up. However, a little courtesy would go a long way. It got so bad for me years ago that I refuse now to make any medical appointment unless it is the very first one of the day ... and I don`t care if it is 6 am - if they make it at 6 am, I`m there. By taking this route, I did not change them, but I beat the system. I have found eye doctors to be the worse. I do not have time to wait on them. Hell, I only give friends 15 minutes before I`m gone ... and that is the rule with my group. You better call. And we made these rules in the dark ages before cell phones

    I changed my SOP on scheduling appointments about 10 years ago. I had a doctor`s appointment for 9 am. They called me about 7:30 and asked if I could come in at 8 am - the doc was going to be ahead of schedule. Of course I said "yes."

    I walk in the office at 8 am ... packed to the gills ... no place to sit even. I went to the desk and asked what was going on ... he had an "emergency". Right.

    I get in at 9 am. I`m steaming. Before I go to the first room, I stop and ask the office manager what happened since THEY called ME to come in early. I am mad. She knows it. She hee-haws around and gives me that "emergency" crap. I told her my time was as valuable as the doctor`s and that I would be billing her for my time. She was shocked. Said I could not do this. I said, "watch me."

    Did my appointment. Expressed my displeasure with the doc. Told him I charge $100 per hour for my services and that he could expect a bill from me. He laughed.

    The bill came. I wrote a letter once again expressing my position about customer "no-service" at my last appointment. Deducted $100 off their invoice. Created an invoice from my company to the doctor for an hour of my time, and sent it off ... check made out at $100 less than charged.  

    Of course, you know I got a call from the office manager a few days later. Of course, saying I could not do this. I said, "I did, and you owe me." Long story short, I talked to the doc a few days later, the office manager again .... they were mad .... but they cashed the check and I closed out the invoice.

    Like I said earlier ... I changed my SOP on making appointments and have not had to pull this card again ... but will if necessary.

    That`s my story.

    R@

    keycon2007-1-11 22:14:40

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    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 3 posts
    January 12, 2007 7:15 AM EST
    I think it was Seinfeld that said there`s a reason it`s called the waiting room.
    • 335 posts
    January 11, 2007 11:29 AM EST
    Anyone ever gotten stuck in a doctor`s lounge, waiting for a appointment that was supposed to take place a half hour ago?

    I wanted to ask SUNsters if this experience is unique to me--just my tragic fate when it comes to Doctor`s waiting rooms--or is it a universal frustration shared by many?

    I mean, how long can you look at a three-month-old issue of Good Housekeeping? And to make things worse, they prohibit use of cell phones "for the courtesy of people around you."

    Courtesy?! How about some customer service courtesy?! Like a call from the Doctor`s office saying, "Sorry we`re running a little late. Can you come a half hour later or can we reschedule?".

    Somewhere in this complaint is a recommendation to physicians to enhance their customer service by proactively taking care of their customers...

    Anyone have any other similar complaints or other recommendations for Doctor entrepreneurs?

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    Rich Sloan , Co-Founder, Chief Startupologist, StartupNation

    • 335 posts
    January 12, 2007 7:43 AM EST

    OH MAN!!!

    This is one of my all-time pet peeves, which has now started to get even worse.

    ...

    But in the spirit of helpfulness, here`s my suggestion:

    Having an automated call system to leave appointment reminders is a great tool for a medical practice, but that`s really only scratching the surface of what a call system could do.

    By integrating that call system more fully with the medical office`s appointment system, patients could be contacted automatically if the schedule is either behind or AHEAD a certain threshold.

    For example, if there was a cancellation earlier in the day, I might be able to come in before my scheduled time if I were contacted & presented with that option. Or, as Rich said...if I knew they were running an hour late, I could get a decent amount of work done, rather than being stuck in a waiting room.

    That can open up a lot of other customer relationship opportunities too.

    For example, I wouldn`t mind if the doctor`s office called & asked if I could postpone or reschedule a routine checkup or some other trivial visit if they were slammed by a bunch of really sick patients, especially children.

    ...

    That could be something that could be part of our records. "OK to request reschedule."

    As a patient, a doctor taking to time to think about this kind of stuff is the kind of doctor I want. Because it tells me that practitioner realizes that good healthcare is, in actuality, a partnership between doctor & patient. Ad they definitely are thinking of their patients needs, while also trying to make their practice as efficient as possible.

    That`s win-win, which is never a bad thing.



    great recommendation!

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    Rich Sloan , Co-Founder, Chief Startupologist, StartupNation

    • 335 posts
    January 21, 2007 3:51 PM EST
    how about we all form a "Waiting Room Bill of Rights" that outlines what is ethical and acceptable business practice for doctors and dentists?!

    in all seriousness, it would be something we`d certainly promote here and on our radio show and we could create a groundswell together that could significantly change this business practice.

    if you think about it, if certain doctors start adhering to it, their peers would have to fall in line.... and they`d have happier customers.

    ---
    Rich Sloan , Co-Founder, Chief Startupologist, StartupNation