Thursday, September 13, 2007

Getting a Doctor’s Appointment

For the last 2+ weeks I’ve had a sore throat. It’s not affecting my voice or work. However, it’s also not going away and appears to be migrating toward an ear infection. My rule-of-thumb is that if I'm no better after a week of home treatment, I go to the doctor. I’m past that limit.

When I called my doctor to set-up an appointment, I got an automated message. Annoying but I get why they’d have one. I waited for the option to make an appointment.

In the meantime, I learned that this doctor’s office is open 4 days a week. They have an hour and a half lunch. They “routinely” answer the phone between 2 and 5 pm. If I have an emergency, I am supposed to hang up and call 911. If I want to make an appointment, I am unworthy of specific mention.

After sitting through the spiel, I waited to see if they would answer the phone after the message played. There was no option to leave a message for a call back (like my dentist has). Just the sound of the phone ringing over and over again. I have called 8 times in the last three days at various times during their office hours. The phone has been picked up once.

But this was not the end of my troubles. I was told I couldn’t book an appointment because the lady who does it was still at lunch (an hour past the “official” end of lunch stated in the message). According to the answering party, she didn’t know how to make appointments. For comparison, every person in the front of my dentist & orthodontist’s offices can book an appointment with their office’s software. I asked if I could leave my number for a call back. This earned me a laugh (!) and a rebuttal stating it would be better if I called them back. When I attempted to call back, the phone wasn’t picked up again!

Are you frickin’ kidding me?! What is the point of making it as difficult as possible to get an appointment? Doesn’t this doctor want patients? If they’re booked solid, wouldn’t it be easier and more considerate to just change the answering message to reflect that?

Granted, my problems are not really severe. And my insurance allows me to go to practically any doctor. But this is the doctor I’ve seen in the past. She would have the best understanding of my medical history. I’ve dealt with her and her partner in the practice previously and liked them both. Am I being ridiculous here in expecting a modicum of customer service?

(See below the cut for answer)

Answer: No, I'm not being ridiculous.

Proof: I asked a friend for her doctor’s number because I know she goes regularly. When I called, they answered on the 2nd ring (no message!) and made an appointment for the NEXT DAY! The phone call took approximately four minutes.

When I arrived this morning for my appointment, I had to fill out a couple forms but there was hardly any waiting. They called me in within five minutes of my scheduled time. The doctor was congenial and informative. My diagnosis: STREP THROAT. Which means for the last three days, I've been exposing my co-workers to a contagious disease. All because my "official" doctor has a convoluted process for making appointments.

After a quick trip to the pharmacy, I'm home for the day. According to the doctor, I'll stop being contagious after a day's worth of antibiotics. (whew)

In the future, I will be banning any doctor that I cannot make an appointment for easily. I understand busy. What I won't accept is being brushed off when I could be contagious.

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