If you message, they will come!

Being a sports movie buff, being able to use the most popular catch phrase from one of the best sports movies of all time “Field of Dreams” as my title, has made my blogging life complete!

The premise of the film was simple. If you believe the impossible, the incredible can come true.

Now, I’m not asking anyone to go build a corn field on their soon-to-be repossessed property or anything. Why I chose this particular tag line is because it can lend true to just about any situation in life.

If you’ve been following along in my blog, then you know I am a “frustrated patient”, sick of the state of the current healthcare system. The major breakdown seems to be in the communication between Doctors and patients, but also between the medical providers themselves.

Doctors are overwhelmed with administrative duties, in order to satisfy Insurance Companies requirements for their reimbursement. Instead of spending more valuable time with their patients, they are forced to spend LESS time with us. On top of seeing patients during the day, and countless hours clicking off all the right codes in order to get paid, they must also deal with constant questions relayed to them by their medical staff. The medical staff then has to turn around and call the patient back with the Doctor’s answer.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had countless situations where I have contacted my Doctor’s office with a question. If someone actually answers or you leave a voicemail, in each situation they half listen to your story, picking out only what they perceive to be the “key” words in order to get your question or query addressed. By the time the Doctor has two minutes to listen to the question and answer (usually after seeing their last patient of the day), you may get a response just about the time you’re sitting down for dinner. Otherwise it’s not until the next day.

Now you’re annoyed because you called in the morning and waited several hours for a response. You know that actually getting that elusive “live person” on the phone is like a Yeti sighting, so you stay glued to your phone. Otherwise we’re back to everyone’s favorite game of phone tag!

So, you finally get a response but it either has little to do with your actual question, or only provides half an answer. This is because the person taking the message did not pay attention to everything you’ve said, and your question got lost in translation on it’s way to the Doctor. Now you’re fuming! You have to call back AGAIN to get the rest of your question answered. This time you don’t want to deal with the medical staff, you demand to speak with the Doctor!

Now this poor Doctor has to spend part of their already over-crowded day putting out a fire and doing damage control.

A couple of these instances come to mind immediately. After suffering through a 2+ day Migraine attack, I have gone through all my pain medication and desperately need more. I call my Doctor’s office first thing in the morning, begging for a refill as soon as possible, explaining I am in excruciating pain and need a refill of “XYZ” medication called in. Now, if you’ve ever talked to anyone in the throws of a major Migraine attack, you know it’s quite evident by the sound of their voice that they are not playing around.

So, I agonize through the entire day waiting for a call back from my Doctor’s office, letting me know the prescription has been called in so I can have someone go pick it up for me. I then notice it’s almost 5:00pm and the office will be closing soon. I call back and once again, voicemail! This time I am desperate and my message clearly indicates this.

Well, long and painful story short, I succumb to the pain and begrudgingly head to the Emergency Room. I can now look forward to endless hours in the waiting room, hugging a waste paper basket while I wait for a bed. Not only that, I get to pay the $100 E.R. copay. Yay!

Even though my Migraine is thankfully, finally gone, I am still ticked at my Doctor’s office for their lack of response (and compassion, really). After still no return call by lunch time, I am calling the office looking for blood! I tell the receptionist that I am fit to be tied and since I know she has nothing to do with it, I do not want to take it out on her and to please put me through to the Office Manager. I get Nurse Ratchet on the line and begin to explain the hell I had just been through. Mid-sentence, she cuts me off and begins a 20 minute tirade about how it is the responsibility of the patient to not let their prescriptions run out so things like this don’t happen. While true, it doesn’t excuse her staff’s utter lack of response and compassion for a patient enduring torturous pain.

I got no where with Nurse Ratchet so my next step was to write a letter to my Doctor directly, because I refused to believe had she known how badly I was treated, she would have let it happen. The Doctor did respond to my letter very quickly and with genuine concern. That’s all I was looking for….NURSE RATCHET!

Anyway, to bring things full circle and finally answer your question, “What the hell does the phrase from Field of Dreams have to do with this post?”.

If I was able to simply type a quick message to my Doctor directly that first morning (not only simpler but much easier on the aching head of a migraine sufferer!), knowing my particular situation, I KNOW she would have acted immediately and none of that nonsense would have happened. What’s even better? She got rid of me in about 5 minutes with instructing a staff member to submit the refill request and typing a quick response, “all set”.

Instead, two different phone messages had to be taken off and written down (and ignored, apparently). The office manager, AKA-Nurse Ratchet was tied up on the phone for a good 40+ minutes berating an irate patient. Then the Doctor had to spend time reading a letter from a furious patient, and taking her own personal time after hours, to respond to this patient.

Doctors scoff at the idea of messaging directly with their patients, with the fear that it will take up MORE of their valuable time. As you’ve seen from my above example (and I have more if you don’t believe me!), it actually saved the Doctor and her staff considerable time. Less inquiries get lost in translation and the Doctor spends less time putting out fires.

When all this happens, you have happy patients! When you have happy patients, they tell their friends and family about their extraordinary experience with their Doctor’s office, particular their response time! When others hear about this odd spectacle of fast and efficient communication with a Doctor’s office and they will come….to your doorstep!

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