I love my children's pediatrician. He's great not only with the kids, but also with the parents. Although he's got to be under enormous pressure, he never makes direct conversations feel rushed.
He appears to be genuinely glad to answer any and all questions the parents have, and he doesn't make it seem as if he's heard the same question a million times, as he probably has. Interacting with him directly is always (dare I say it?) a fun experience.
I just hate going to see him.
I won't necessarily lay the blame squarely on his shoulders. I'm sure he does the best he can. It's just that on certain days and at certain times, I get to see him for only 15 minutes of the 2 hours I'm there. Spending that time trying to comfort an increasingly fussy baby for twice as long as I expected to be there is nearly enough to make me want to actively seek a new doctor.
The problem is, I haven't met a doctor yet who has so little to do that he can actually keep his appointment times consistently. At least not for the amount I'm willing to pay. Thus, in my case, changing pediatricians won't really solve the problem. It would simply change the location that problem occurred. By changing, I would give up the certainty of having a good pediatrician for a hope that defies all reason and experience .... that is .... that the waiting time situation will change by switching doctors.
Bearing all that in mind, what can be done? It seems that any of the available choices are, in one way or another, prohibitive. One option results in a continued waste of time and discomfort, and the other introduces uncertainty in the quality of care I can expect my children to receive with no corresponding benefit to compensate for that uncertainty.
Assuming similar prices, levels of care, and "bedside manner," a better waiting room experience might tip the scales with many patients. Improvements I'd look for could be pretty simple, but it means expanding the office's repertoire beyond just magazines and a single TV playing a single kids' movie over and over again.
- Office staff should provide an explanation to the patient when once they are able to anticipate a delay over, say, fifteen minutes.
- Make refreshments available for the wait.
- Waive the copayment fee (whatever it is) when the wait is longer than 30 minutes.
- Provide interesting content that may be relevant to the visit. There are only so much one can get out of reading the posters over and over again when the patient is stuck waiting for anything more than 15 minutes.
Although it seems the supply available doctors seems to barely, if at all, meet the demands of patients, the medical care industry as a whole has an incredible P.R. problem that is about to get worse due to the upcoming release of "Sicko," a movie created by Michael Moore, who is no stranger to .... fairly or unfairly .... drumming up controversy with and animosity toward his intended targets.
If there was ever an incentive to improve their patients' perception of their health care providers, this is it. Although probably too late to dampen the immediate impact of "Sicko," it's never too late to pay closer attention to the comfort and requirements of a company's customers, regardless of the industry in question.