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Is Customer Service and Patient Service any different?

Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2011, at 8:21 PM

Some companies seem to make you beg to get good service, while others make you feel guilty for taking advantage of them because they work so hard to make you happy. We can probably all think of some examples.

Is the same true in the medical field? Obviously I think so, or I would not be bringing up the question. I am in the market for a new general practitioner/family doctor and the reason is not medical expertise but customer service.

Maybe some well established practices need to re-evaluate their office policies, their way of viewing patients, or should I say their "bedside manner" even though few visit your bedside unless you are in the hospital.

I was hit by a mean intestinal virus last week while in Memphis. I could not leave the motel room for a few days and on the third day made a run for home.

Several times on the the way I called my local physician to see if they could squeeze me in. I was in pain, nauseous and felt like giving up. Bad virus.

I arrived 12 minutes after they said they stopped seeing patients. They would still be there for another 45 minutes but they could not see me. The doctor had an appointment after clinic hours and apparently his instructions were "no exceptions". I wish doctors considered OUR appointments with them so important.

I understand that we sometimes shout WOLF for a splinter, but I had not eaten in three days and was laying in the hallway waiting for an after hours clinic to open, but they could not see me.

Remember I mentioned sometimes feeling like you had to beg to get good service? I begged all the way from Memphis and at their counter as well. It did no good. Their opinion was that if I felt that bad, I should check into the hospital.

Many of you know what the hospital charges look like, so I decided my funeral would be cheaper. Besides, I was not in my right mind any more anyway.

My first name was given to me in honor of our family doctor, Dr Steven Stanowicz. I bet you can guess that doctor Steve never turned us away during non-office hours.

My father did not have a job when my mother was pregnant with me and they already had 3 other children. I was a surprise. He had no money to pay for her pre-natal care(or mine)so Dr. Steve gave him a job.

I will grant you, Dr. Steve was a tired man at times, but he managed to be our high school team physician and I remember seeing him all over town with his family, so he had a personal life as well.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Hmmm, I would have thought someone would have had some thoughts on this. Hope everyone is not sick like I was, not fun at all.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 6:15 PM

Steve, can feel your pain. Although I haven't been faced with that situation I have been close.

I had a bad toothache once and called my dentist. He wanted to know if I could be there in 10 minutes. Having to lock up the office, yard and carry a worker home the old Ford was cranking pretty good but I made it. That's the fastest that I ever had two teeth extracted.

I recall Dad having a doctor's appointment and after sitting in the Doctor's office for an hour and a half, he left. Getting back to the office, and being very upset, he sat down and made out a bill to the Doctor for the hour and half that he waited and mailed it to him. His comment was, my time is just as valuable to me as his is to him.

Don't think he got any pay but he cleared his mind.

-- Posted by walrite on Thu, Oct 20, 2011, at 11:13 AM

I would bet the idea of sending a bill has crossed a few minds. I am glad to hear that he did it and hopefully it got a point across.

Believe me, I understand that emergencies or the intricacies of a patients case may take longer than projected but it would seem to me that with a little training the office staff who make the appointments could make more accurate judgements about time.

I think Mr. XYZ might require a little more time or Mrs. XYZ is coming in for a standard check-up so she does not need the extra time. In my case, they could guess it was a virus, (or would) and we just need to ask a few questions to make sure it is not something else, so 15 minutes.

They are not making medical decision, just scheduling and I bet you most seasoned office staff could already do it. At worst, the doctor has to spend a little more time at the end of the day, but I am sure the errors would be pointed out and the scheduler would learn a little more.

And the loyalty they would develop? Pure love!

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Oct 20, 2011, at 5:35 PM

I had my foot worked on in Abilene Tx and the doc would not see me the next day because they were "busy" and said my pain was "normal" and just would not even let me come in and have the nurse look at it.

I called my foot doc in Murfreesboro and he was appalled and said no i should not have that kind of pain and the procedure i had should have never been used on the bottom of my foot. Told me to get to a clinic... and make sure it did not set up sepsis... I was just flabbergasted that this doc would not even see me after i described what i was going through. I have found some docs are just a "business" and we are just a number.

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Mon, Oct 24, 2011, at 7:49 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.