Impersonalized Service

 In Blog

This Monday, I woke up in the early hours feeling as though I’d swallowed a porcupine butt first.

Around noon, I could stand it no longer. Off to the doc in a box, I.E., one of those mini E.R. kinda places. There, I received about the most impersonal health care-ever.

When you go to any E.R., unless the condition is life threatening, it’s become all too well known that you might die of old age before being seen by a doc. Hence, the rise of these mini E.R.s and clinics designed to treat acute health issues. So, I knew we’d likely wait a while to see the doc, but I always like to know the monster I face. For me, time is a monster. Patience isn’t one of my strong suits.

I asked the secretary how long it might be to see the doc. “Three people ahead of you, so at least half an hour.” K, gotcha. That’s reasonable.

That 30 minutes turned into closer to 60. Still, no big deal-I’m sick, after all and I need the help. Then, I sat and sat and sat for at least another 30 (if not 45) minutes in the exam room. This is where things really got interesting!

When the doctor arrived, I was treated to such a lack of patient care that it created three chapters on what NOT to do for my next medical book. Here, I’ll only address one: facing the patient.

When the doctor was in the room, he sat with his back facing me, typing away on his laptop for the first several minutes. No introduction, no handshake, just straight to the work station with his face to the wall.

Then? His cell phone rang. And he excused himself to take the call. For the sake of everything holy, THIS was totally, TOTALLY unacceptable.

He returned a few moments later, sat down and started typing away again. He asked the stupid question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your pain?” I’ll elaborate later (probably with an entire article or essay) on why this is so dumb. Finally, he got up to do the exam.

Granted, this is only a sore throat, maybe strep. He looked in my mouth for no more than three seconds, put his stethoscope on my back and chest for five seconds, pushed on my stomach for two seconds and we were done. End of story.

Health care has become so impersonal. Chalk it up to a multitude of things; including the possibility this doc was just having a bad day.

The thing I still can’t get past is facing away from me, the patient. How many of us would do business with someone who purposefully chooses not to look us in the eye? Even I, who doesn’t do the whole eye contact thing, am always cognizant to be sure I’m facing the person to whom I’m speaking. Just makes sense, doesn’t it? Why then would someone choose to turn away?

This just reinforces the cultural need to connect. It also reminds me, and hopefully you, how important it is to face the person you’re interacting with, speak with them verbally and be fully engaged in every form of communication. If not, it’s likely your conversational partner may end up feeling like I did: as though my presence wasn’t the least bit important.

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