Healthcare Communication Breakdown (Part 1)

I have had the same Family Physician for 25 plus years.  Like changing your bank, it is a painful process to change your physician.  I like my doctor.  He is intelligent, conservative, and has a dry wit about him.  I find that sometimes it is challenging to get a reasonable response from the office.  I must leave a voice message and then wait for them to return the call.  They average around four hours to return the call, but sometimes it is longer than 24 hours.  This is just to see if I can get an appointment or that I need to talk to the nurse practitioner about my symptoms.

healthcareIts always a joy to talk about symptoms overt the phone.  As fictitious examples: “Yes its oozing, with a reddish center located in a spot I can’t reach.  It’s the size of a baseball in the middle of my forehead.  When I cough, it’s so violent that I am on the verge of passing out and I have double vision when talking on the phone.”  Who isn’t embarrassed to describe the problem on the phone?  I think the worst – that the receptionist is probably laughing while on mute or putting you on speakerphone for the whole office to hear the grotesqueness of your aliment.

I want to communicate to my doctors via email and social media. I want to know their positions on treatment, research, Obamacare, and prescriptions.  I want to easily send a note of follow up to be filed in my record showing that the course recommended by the doctor worked quickly or more slowly than expected, so that this information can be used in the future.  How many times have you called your Doctor to say everything went as expected?  If the prescription worked, then you move on and the doctor does not hear from you.  My doctor does not even have a web site.  Most doctors do not.  The majority of those that do have web sites are group practices and they are static pages showing capabilities and services offered.  Very few have case studies (because that would be a breach of confidentiality). Even fewer have any patient outcome statistics.

Time has come for practitioners to embrace the web and the power that it affords to them.  The opportunity is to provide better service, gain more clients, and even be more efficient.  But they hesitate for two basic reasons:

  1. Risk and Liability – Having an opinion or taking a stand can cause some to take a stand against you or disagree with the position. Doctors want to be perceived to patient as impartial experts in delivering their service.  Proving on line opinions puts this impartiality at risk.  More importantly is the risk of disclosure of confidential information.
  2. Payment – How do you monetize follow-up emails?  There is extra work in posting, blogging and communicating with patients outside of the office.  Insurance certainly won’t pay for that!

Communication breakdown, it’s always the same

Havin’ a nervous breakdown, a-drive me insane, yeah

More to come on this rant…

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