Cross-posted from my day-job blog
What is wrong with these people???
I've been having a pain lately, in an arm that shouldn't be having pain due to a past condition. The orthopedist who took care of my bones said to get an x-ray at some local shop and send her the CD. (She's happy to save me the time of driving into Boston, and she knows local clinics can make a good x-ray.)
So I called the radiology department of a well-known, highly rated clinic in nearby Burlington – let's call it Elsie – to make an appointment.
(You know about appointments. They help customers get served quickly and conveniently, and help managers plan their resource utilization. The win-win thing.)
Me: "Hi. My doctor says I should get an x-ray and send her the CD. Can I do that? -- Good, I'd like to make an appointment."
Elsie staff: "Oh, you don't need an appointment. Just come right in. I mean, you can have one if you want, but you don't need one."
Me to my manager: "I'm going over to Elsie to get an x-ray. They said I can walk right in – should be quick."
I get there, find my way through their campus (the directions were perfect), and find radiology.
The line to check in goes out into the hall. And at the front of the line, the sign on the desk says the current wait time is 30 minutes.
I look at my watch, conclude I don't want to wait 45 minutes (or even 30) for a "no appointment needed" x-ray, and leave.
The parking machine wants money for my ticket. I talk to the cashier and the information counter; saying I wasn't able to get my appointment so I don't want to pay. (I've been there less than 10 minutes.) Both people look at me like I'm crazy and say there's nothing they can do. A third person says maybe security will validate it. They gladly do.
On the way out I call again.
Me: "I want to make an appointment for tonight."
Elsie staff: "Oh, you don't need an appointment. If you want to make one for sometime tomorrow you can."
Me: "I can't make one for this evening so I don't have to wait?"
Elsie: "No…" (sounding rather uncertain about why I'd be asking)
It's clear to me that my time is not the slightest consideration to this clinic. I've been hearing this about healthcare in general, but I know of places where they do care. (My own hospital is one of them, and I know there are others.)
I just wonder, what on earth is so complicated? I happen to know first-hand that an appointment system for a few workstations is not at all expensive. (I work for TimeTrade Appointment Systems.) Instead, they have a line of people out into the hall – sick and injured people, typically – and they cheerfully (genuinely cheerful) say "Oh, you don't need an appointment."
Right: just show up and wait. We'll get to you when we get to you. Reminds me of the t-shirt that says "I don't have a drinking problem. I drink, I get drunk, I fall down. No problem."
Methinks the world of healthcare is (mostly) so wrapped up in its own importance that it doesn't even occur to them to respect their customers' time. And that's gotta change.