Time Is What We Want Most But What We Used Worst… William Penn
This week we motored to the eye doctor for an appointment for TLO. This was a new doctor added to our portfolio as his previous eye doctor was no longer on the TLO’s insurance plan. Like many caregivers, I ended leaving work early in the afternoon to pick up TLO so that we could head west to the appointment. Twenty minutes from work to home; twenty minutes from home to the doctor’s office. I guess you can say I was ‘Driving TLO’ (Driving Miss Daisy just did not sound right!)
On our way to the Doctor’s appointment, I got my first indication that this appointment had the potential to be a problem.
- TLO: “When I made the appointment I asked them to send me the paperwork so I could fill it out and have it ready when we arrive. I never received the paperwork, so if I do not have any of the information they need, I am going to write on each line, ‘I’m too old to remember because you did not send me the paperwork ahead of time!’”
- Me: “How long ago did you make this appointment?”
- TLO: “At least six weeks ago and I called them in the mean time to ask them to send me the paperwork”
- Me: “So you made two request for the paperwork.”
- TLO “Yes!”
- “Oh boy,” I thought to myself. ”This is going to be a long afternoon”
We promptly arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule and TLO started to fill out his paperwork. Surprised that he did not say something to the receptionist about not being mailed the paperwork prior to the appointment, he took pen to paper and started to fill out the requested information. (Of course, they took his co-pay first!) As I peeked over to see what how he was doing with the paper work, I noticed a few long answers which started…”I’m too old to remember.” I chuckled, but made sure he was not missing any critical information that the doctor or staff needed which was important to his care.
While completing the paperwork we sat in what I thought was a waiting room, which was empty. “We are going to move through this appointment quickly I thought.” WRONG! 45 minutes later the receptionist called us and pointed us down the hallway to a second waiting area. We were shocked to find 12 people in this waiting room to see the ‘tech’ then the doctor. Another 45 minutes, and finally he is called in for his eye exam, which took all of about 15 minutes.
While watching the other patients in the waiting room, I was trying to determine how people were being called in for their exam. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as patients who were there before us, were called after us. You know that is the case when you get the evil eye from someone sitting across the room from you when your name is called and their name is not. I could see the nurses, tech support, receptionist all fluttering around the office, but no one taking charge. Patients sitting there getting frustrated; receptionists with their glass window closed.
Soon TLO returned with the nurse who said, “Take a seat, Mr. Schiffer the doctor will see you soon!’ I said to him, “What’s up, did you not see the doctor?” “no,” he replied, “they just did the test, they will call us again to review with the doctor.”
Oh boy, more delays, there is just so much daytime TV one can take. How do people watch those judge shows?
Time continues to drag on, and on and on… Now we’re past two hours waiting in this office (as were many of the other patients) and we’re both started to get frustrated. One of the nurses approaches us wanting to know his primary care doctor and his previous eye doctor. “All that information is on the paperwork. What seems to be the problem” we said in unison. (Yes, he did put that info on the paperwork!) “Oh, we’re just waiting on the referral.” the doctor will not see you without the referral. YIKES!
One of the great things about TLO is that he follows up with his primary care physician on a regular basis when there is a need for a referral. He confirmed weeks prior to the appointment that the referral had been sent by his PCP.
Before I could even get to the receptionist to straighten out this mess, TLO had beaten me to the punch. Let us just say that we have two very diverse ways in handling conflict. I will let your imagine run wild about his loud and direct conversation with the receptionist!
Two and a half hours into our extended stay at the eye doctor’s office, we finally just left.
We have reported the eye doctor to our primary care physician so that they do not make any more referrals to that office. Knowing that they have the needed referral, we have also reported the eye doctor to our insurance company because we are both confident that they will bill for the appointment.
Time is a precious commodity. Too often time waiting in doctors’ offices is wasted by the inefficiency of the staff; we have all experienced it. But how do we combat it?
- Always tell the doctor about your positive and/or negative experience with staff or office procedures; often doctors are the last ones to know. It is their reputation!
- Always tell the referring physician about a positive/negative experience with a referral they have made.
- When going to a new doctor, always ask for the paperwork in advance of the appointment to help expedite the wait time.
- Inform your insurance provider of a problem with a referral.
- Always double-check with your PCP to make sure that the referral has been made.
I would love to hear what you do to combat wasted time at the doctor’s office.
You see…We Might Have Cancer, But Cancer Does Not Have Us!