Why Is Going to the Doctor Such a Miserable Experience?

Doctor checking his watchWhy is it that going to the doctor is such a miserable experience? I don’t think it’s just because we’re usually sick when we see the doctor. From the attitude of the admin staff, to the wait, to the rushed visit with the doctor, I’m convinced that going to the doctor is usually a horrible user experience.

I went to see a new doctor last week about a lingering chest cold.  The receptionist told me to arrive 10 minutes to fill out the required paperwork and I complied.  Okay, I expect to wait when I see a doctor, but I didn’t plan on waiting a whole hour to see the doctor.  And you know what, the admin staff acted like it was the most normal thing in the world that a patient would wait 60 minutes; nobody talked to me, nobody apologized, nothing. When the doctor finally saw me, she didn’t apologize or acknowledge my wait until I asked her point blank if I should expect to wait an hour each time I saw her.  To add insult to injury, she rushed the exam because she was running so late.  She said my lungs were clear but wrote a prescription, just in case.  Yeah, I felt all warm and fuzzy about this visit.  (Not!)

I went to a new doctor because my other doctor, who I had been seeing for four years, never seemed to remember me, always confused me with other patients, and kept trying to push asthma medicine for sinus infections I’m prone to get during the winter.

Does it have to be this way?  I think not.  When I lived in San Francisco, I had a great dentist. I looked forward to going to the dentist – the dentist!  Why?  Let me count the ways:

  • If the dentist was running late, I would get a call from her office.  The receptionist would let me know how much the dentist was behind schedule and ask me to come later or reschedule, if my schedule did not allow for a later appointment.  Imagine, a dentist who respected my time!
  • When I arrived, I was always offered herbal tea or a glass of water.
  • During my actual time in the chair, I was offered the use of a Walkman (yeah, I’m dating myself) to drown out the drilling and other horrible dentist noises.
  • When I referred a patient, I got a handwritten thank you note from the dentist or office manager.

So, what kind of user experience do you offer your customers when they call or visit your office?

7 thoughts on “Why Is Going to the Doctor Such a Miserable Experience?

  1. In reference to an article in the NYT by Princeton economics professor Alan B. Krueger on patient time being a hidden cost of healthcare, I got a kick out of this comment:

    Many years ago, when living and working in washington d.c., I had a dentist (whom I had the greatest respect for) but who had the very worst habit of keeping patients waiting interminably. I’d made the mistake of scheduling an appointment at lunchtime — doable, if the time waiting hadn’t been a factor.
    I arrived on time, and waited in the very brightly lit office, reading very old back copies (why don’t they ever have anything current and good?) of junky magazines. I waited and waited for over an hour.
    After words with his receptionist, I left. I sent the dentist a bill for my time — the waiting time, and the time of the commute, based on my annual salary, broken into the hourly value.
    He deducted that amount from the next bill. I never waited again.
    — Ellen

  2. In my experience, the better the doctor, the worse the admin staff. I love my doctors, but most of their staffs are sullen, to the point of rudeness. At my most recent doctor’s visit, the doctor kept me waiting a long time, but she apologized profusely. She said no one had told her I was waiting and I believed her.

  3. Where we now live, in Central Florida, there seems to be an inverse relationship: good doctor, poor staff. We’ve had some doozy experiences down here, I must say. At one office my husband’s complaint about taking time off to come in — and then being told he couldn’t see the doctor because they (the staff themselves) shouldn’t have scheduled with that particular doctor — was met with termination by the practice because he made the receptionist cry!!! (my husband is low key — if it had been me i may have been arrested!)

    Speaking of being arrested — almost — I got lost on the way to a new doctor. I called the office and they said it would be ok. I was 13 minutes late when i signed in. Seven minutes later they called me up to get my prepay and give me a form to fill out. Shortly after that called me up again to tell me because I was 20 minutes late I couldn’t see him at all!!!! The protest about calling and the actual 13 minute delay was to no avail — and so my fighting with them (just using my NY voice, but not language) resulted in them calling security to escort me out of the building!!!

    Now I either take referrals from Northerner friends or check out a doctor or dentist’s origins or schooling to see if they’ve been out of this area for any length of time — and that’s helping quite a bit.

  4. I wish I had the guts to bill my doctor(s) when they make me wait. I have simply left the practice when the offenses get too bad; I wonder if these doctors even realize that their behavior and practices are driving patients away.

  5. When will be people realize that doctors are worthless. They simply want to line their pockets twice…by charging you to wait for hours for advice that a 5 year old can give, and from pharmaceutical companies by pushing their newest drugs that cause more problems than they cause.

    Please people wake up. The idea of doctors and medicine is just a scam!!!!

  6. Why Is Going to the Doctor Such a Miserable Experience?

    Answer:

    1) The government gives doctors too much power. Health Care is not subjected to the laws of economics. Health Care does not follow free market capitalism principles of supply and demand and private property rights. The government controls everything and gives doctors a monopoly. Doctors are highly overpaid and in too short supply.

    2) Psychiatry has corrupted the field of medicine. It used to be that doctors would analyse all your data and honestly try to find out what’s wrong. Now they all suspect you’re crazy and will not consider you might have a genuine illness. Worse, they can have you forcibly committed (psychiatric incarceration) if you’re not totally obedient and subservient to them.

    Because of government and psychiatry, doctors are tyrants and I no longer use their services.

  7. That’s why you should see a naturopath. Those people actually care about your health and want to cure you instead of treating you with dangerous medicine.

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