Why Patients Don’t ‘Love’ Going To The Doctor’s Office

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Why Patients Don’t ‘Love’ Going To The Doctor’s Office

Doctor's Office - Innova Primary Care

The Doctor’s Office, Oh Boy!

How do you feel about having to visit the doctor’s office? Thrilled? Apprehensive? 

Do you remember the movie Little Shop of Horrors with Steve Martin and Rick Moranis? It wasn’t that great a movie, so don’t go rent it, but there was one scene that I actually loved! It was the scene where Bill Murray makes a guest appearance and goes to the dentist (Steve Martin). Steve’s character is a sadistic dentist who became a dentist just to cause people pain. He meets his match though with Bill Murray’s masochistic character, Arthur Denton, who requests “a long, slow, root canal.” The scene absolutely cracks me up!

Most of us are not like Arthur. We don’t look forward to visiting the dentist, especially if we ever had an experience anything close to Arthur’s! For that matter going in for any kind of medical appointment can be unpleasant. Why is that? People have been seeking healthcare of one sort or another for thousands of years. Why have we not figured it out yet? Unless you suffer from Iatrophobia (fear of doctors), an office visit ought to be a relatively pleasant experience.

As I’m certain you are aware, there can be a lot of reasons for a visit to be unpleasant. Here are some common complaints.

Long Wait at the Doctor’s Office

You show up 15 minutes early, cause you’re just responsible like that. You sign in, take a seat and fill out a patient information update form. After you turn in your form, you sit back down and stare at the wall, or your phone or some lousy infomercial on an ancient TV in the corner. 45 minutes later, your name is called. You are taken back to a nondescript room with illustrations of random anatomy and wait quietly for another 30 minutes while leafing disinterestedly through a 10 year old Better Homes and Gardens.

Here’s the skinny. Physicians are paid by insurance and Medicare for every patient they see based on why they see the patient, and what procedures they perform. They are not paid by the amount of time they spend with the patient. So, naturally, to maximize the amount of money that can be made, they schedule as many patients as humanly possible, and effectively jam up the schedule. More patients plus more procedures equal more income and, longer waits at the doctor’s office.

What’s The Rush

So you’ve gone cross-eyed staring at your Instagram feed, you have to pee and you’re starting to get hangry. The doctor finally shows up with a weak smile and a worse joke. He asks what he can do for you today and before you’re done explaining he’s already looking at his watch and starts scribbling a prescription. He briefly explains his diagnosis, hands you the script and, with a flourish of his wrinkly white lab coat, vanishes. Why? Same as before – more patients plus more procedures equals more income and less time possible with each patient.

Doctor's Office - Innova Primary Care

No One is Listening

On the ride to the doctor’s office, in the waiting room and in the examination room, you had plenty of time to work on your explanation of the symptoms and concerns. You start in on your story while he clicks his pen and stares impatiently at his tablet. He asks a couple of seemingly unrelated questions, then orders a few tests and tells you the nurse will be in shortly as he blows out as quickly as he came. You didn’t even get to hear your explanation of what was wrong! How could the doc possibly understand what you are going through? Once again you feel as though no one is listening. No one cares.

It’s all about probabilities. He is trained and experienced and, based on this wealth of understanding, he selected the most probable cause of the symptoms you are experiencing and more often than not he is probably correct, or at least close.

Billing and Insurance

Few things in life are as frustrating as the cost of health care. Personally I’d love to see us go back to the barter system. Need a flu shot? Show up with a basket eggs. Problems with your prostate? Bring a side of beef. So much simpler! “Doc, I don’t feel well. What can I get for a cord of wood?”

Interestingly, I was recently watching some of the original episodes of the Carol Burnett Show (R.I.P. TIm Conway). In one skit, a reporter (Harvey Korman) was interviewing a doctor (Jonathan Winters). What struck me was that in the late 60’s, early 70’s (whenever that episode came out) the issues were very much the same as they are today. They were highlighting the fact the healthcare cost too much, that some doctors are only in it for the money and they don’t make house calls on the weekend. OK, that last one maybe not so much, but you get the idea.

These days, most of us would give anything to pay the going rate for healthcare in 1970! Not only is the current cost exponentially higher, it’s not clearly posted! With most things you buy, the cost is right in front of you, or at least available upon request. It’s printed on the menu, or the sticker, or your receipt. Generally, we know how much we pay for things. Not so much with healthcare. It can be very confusing and frustrating trying to figure out what you actually received with your healthcare purchase.

Doctor's Office - Innova Primary Care

Love Going to Your Doctor’s Office Again (Or Maybe For The First Time)

It may take a long time to fix all that ails our healthcare system, but there are those out there who are already working on it in earnest. We may never get back to the good old days when surgery would only set you back a hand made quilt or maybe a side of beef, but hopefully, due to the diligent work of a few, we can slowly bring about positive change in the industry.

At Innova Primary Care, we do things differently. We want to change what it means to visit the doctor’s office for your health and well being.

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