July 1, 2022 8:33 AM
You are sick..,A sense of dread hits your stomach as you consider the hassle of taking time off work, spending all day sitting in your doctor’s office, and the sneaking suspicion in the end that you didn’t ask all the right questions during your brief appointment.
Maybe what deters you is not the time and energy investment, but the treatment you receive upon arrival that makes you hesitate; the front desk person is hurried and short, you wait for over an hour with no communication, and the doctor is distant and disengaged during your 15 minutes together.
Whether a hospital or family practice, medical providers are under enormous financial pressure. Your doctor is balancing concern for your well-being with the “bottom line”, which may be why you feel unenthusiastic about your upcoming appointment.
So how do you change the experience and have the best doctor appointment ever? By following these simple rules; Be Prepared, Be Nice, and Be A Boss! Sounds too easy to be true, but these tips will lead to a more invested relationship with your doctor and hopefully better health for you!
If you were a Boy or Girl Scout, this tip should seem familiar. The motto for both the Boy and Girl Scouts is “Be Prepared”, and membership estimated at 28 million worldwide, they are doing something right (http://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/1625/register) Proper preparation for your appointment is the best way to maximize time with your doctor and feel more in control.
What does it mean to “Be a Boss”? I once had a client who was in her 80’s, she was very active, always on the go. After a consultation session, I inquired what was on her agenda for the afternoon. She matter-of-factly told me, “I’m going to interview a doctor”. You could have picked my jaw up off the floor, I asked if she was actually going to interview a doctor as you would a job applicant. She told me yes she was and, “if he wants my business, I need to be sure we can get along and he understands my needs before I commit to working with him”. She further explained to me, who has never ‘interviewed’ a doctor, that had been her practice for most of her life. Especially in her senior years, she took a deep investment in her health by interviewing a number of doctors before agreeing to give them her business.
To Be a Boss is to understand your doctor is providing a service and you have options. Yes, you need the doctor to feel better and maintain good health, but you also have a responsibility and are contributing to the livelihood of the doctor’s practice. Like my client, taking an active and organized approach is more likely to result in the best doctor appointment ever.
It is critical to your health that the doctor and office staff know your name and care about your well-being.
If you practice the old adage “it doesn’t cost anything to be courteous”, you are well on your way to having the best doctor appointment ever. Imagine the minute you walk through the doors of your doctor’s office that you are interacting with collaborators on a critical work assignment. The outcome could mean a promotion and raise, or if it goes poorly, being stuck in a dead-end job with no meaningful raise. How do you treat your co-workers in this scenario?
If you want to be successful you treat them with care, attention and respect. You make eye contact, smile often, and get to know them personally to gain investment in your collaboration. You find opportunities for personal connection and remember tidbits of their history to bring up and laugh about. You humanize the relationship because you care about success.
Everyone in your doctor’s office has a potential investment in you, but if you aren’t nice or considerate they likely won’t go the extra mile. Patients who get the most attention, faster returned calls, and better care are those who connect on a human level with the front desk staff, medical assistants, nurses and doctors in the practice. It is critical to your health that the doctor and office staff know your name and care about your well-being. Your doctor may see anywhere from 11-30 patients in a single day, according to a 2013 report from the Physician’s Foundation (http://www.physiciansfoundation.org/uploads/default/2014_Physicians_Foundation_Biennial_Physician_Survey_Report.pdf) You want to stand out in the crowd because your health depends on it.
Imagine you have an unexpected setback such as a heart attack, and end up in the hospital. When the hospital calls to get records and information from your doctor, will your doctor take extra time to consult because they really know you and care about your well-being, or are you just another patient? Will the front desk clerk postpone their lunch hour to fax the information to the hospital or will they wait that precious hour longer to send the information?
By taking the time to Be Nice, you can vastly improve your experience at the doctor’s office. Before you know it the front desk clerk who used to barely look at you will greet you with warmth and chat for a few minutes. Your doctor may even be able to recall your primary health diagnosis without looking at records. Certainly when you exhibit the above 3 tips you are making their job easier, and showing the doctor that you take your health seriously. In that alone you will set yourself apart from the crowd, and the doctor will likely ask more probing questions, and take the time to fully explain your health conditions as a result. Over time, practice being prepared, being a boss, and being nice; and your appointments will be more enjoyable and productive. Check out our Youtube page for more practical tips from The Care Plan.
These 3 tips are the toolkit you need to Have The Best Doctor Appointment Ever, but if you would like a tutorial, the Navigation Managers at The Care Plan are standing by to accompany you or your loved one to the next appointment. The Care Plan is a Chicago based consultative business, we provide Care Consultation & Management services and “My Care Map”, your road map to long-term health and aging success. If you want to feel more in control and experience health and aging on your terms give us a call today at 630-479-0083, we look forward to answering your questions.