I Call Your Name

A few weeks ago I scratched my cornea. Have you ever done that? No? Well, then let me fill you in. A scratched cornea feels like you rubbed your eye with sandpaper and then doused yourself with actual sand. For a few days afterwards, there’s a constant feeling of grit in your eye, even though the original culprit is usually long gone by then. Relief is hard to come by. I was pretty light sensitive, so for about 24 hours, I walked around with both eyes squeezed shut. Showering with your eyes closed is tricky. Getting dressed with both eyes closed is a bit harder to do. By next day, my husband suggested I get an eye patch, but mostly because he thought I’d make a great pirate.

I had a better idea.

It was time to visit an eye doctor. Still squeezing my eye shut, I put out an SOS on my facebook page for an eye doctor who could take me on a Saturday morning. My regular eye doctor did not have any openings that day, and I needed to get into somewhere ASAP. Within seconds I was receiving suggestions. Facebook is good like that! I called one of the offices and they were able to take me within the hour. Thank goodness! I grabbed my car keys and was out the door. And yes, in case you were wondering, I drove with one eye shut the entire way. No worries. I made it in one piece.

So, because of the nature of my job, I’m always very curious about how other medical offices run. I observe the entire patient experience very closely. I have to admit that I’m a tough critic. I pay attention to EVERYTHING: how I’m greeted, what the waiting room looks and feels like, the forms I’m given, the insurance process, the way employees interact with me, the way they interact with each other, how long I’m kept waiting, the doctor’s disposition, and overall ease (or lack thereof) of the entire process. I am always comparing the experience with how we do things in our office. Sometimes I see an efficient system that I’ve never heard of, so I try to bring that aspect to our office. More often than not, I leave other medical offices pretty proud of our staff and our level of attention to patient detail. My visit to the eye doctor was no exception. Let me start off by saying that I had a MOSTLY favorable impression of the office and of the doctor. They got me in, everyone was nice, and they helped me to fix my eye issue. On the way out, they talked to me about my insurance and scheduled me for a follow up visit for the upcoming Wednesday.

Here’s where I think they could have done BETTER.

When I got to the office, they had one of those large clear windows that separates the office from the people in the waiting room. I sort of awkwardly stood in front of it for a minute or so until the receptionist opened it. I really dislike those windows. I’m so glad that we don’t have one. If you have one, get rid of it.

She didn’t stand up to greet me or greet me by name. I think it’s important for the receptionist to stand up and anticipate the patient. There was only one other family in the waiting room when I got there. I’m not sure how many other females, with one messed up eye, they were expecting to walk in at 10:00a.m that day. A simple, “Hi there! Are you Missy?” goes a long way for a patient. Often times patients are nervous and not sure if they are in the right place. By properly greeting someone, you are instilling in them a confidence that your office is on TOP of things.

The assistant who brought me back didn’t introduce herself. She didn’t smile either. She wasn’t mean. She just wasn’t particularly pleasant. I followed her to an exam room, and wasn’t sure what to do with my purse and coat. She had her back to me and started clicking on a machine. It was a little awkward. She gave me some quick directions, but she spoke too quietly and her back was still towards me, and so I completely missed what she said. She knew what she wanted me to do, but I had never been here before so I was clueless. My interaction with her could have been completely different if she would have looked me in the eye and smiled when she first brought me back. She could have said something like, “There’s a hook on the wall if you would like to hang up your things. When you’re done with that, would you mind sitting in the green chair in the middle of the room?” See the difference?

The doctor came in the room; she was great. She looked me in the eye, was calm, and she seemed to really be listening to me. I really like that she repeated back some of my concerns to make sure that she understood. Or maybe she did that for my benefit, to make sure my objectives were being met. At the end of the appointment, she walked me up to the front desk and dropped me off to schedule my follow up.

At the desk, the receptionist asked me what my copay was. I wish dental copays were that easy to deal with….

A few days later, I went back for a follow up. I was called back by the same assistant who brought me back the other day. Her demeanor was the same as before. This time, however, I knew what to do with my coat and purse. 😉 She started asking my questions about my eye, but her questions seemed odd. “When did this happen to you? Which eye did you hurt?” Now, I was JUST there a few days before. Shouldn’t she know all of that already? Wasn’t it written down somewhere? It was like she had never met me before. (So, now we’ve finally gotten to what this blog is all about!)

Every morning our office has a quick huddle meeting to discuss the day’s patients.

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It’s much more efficient to meet with everyone and go over these sorts of details so that everyone is on the same page BEFORE the day starts. I would have felt a lot different about the appointment if the assistant (who’s name I still don’t know) had taken one minute to review my chart before she brought me back. How hard would it have been to say, “Hi Missy! How’s that right eye feeling today?” Instead, her lack of effort ended up inspiring a blog. In our morning huddle, we review every single patient so that EVERYONE in the office is aware of what each patient is coming in for. I don’t want any of us looking foolish, like we don’t know what’s going on. We also use the time where discuss other production opportunities and when I assign any specific office duties to staff members. I don’t tolerate employees standing around and wasting time. I also don’t like interrupting my day by chasing them down and giving them things to do. It’s much more efficient to let EVERYONE know what’s expected during the day at once. Our huddles don’t take a lot of time, but they are one of the most important things we can do for our patients.

Do you have huddles? What do you discuss? What things have you observed while being a patient in other medical offices?

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