Healthcare has come a long way in the past few decades. Some diseases that were terminal just a few years ago now have treatments, and communication between doctor’s offices is better than ever. But there is one area in which healthcare is still years behind, customer service.
There was once a time you could call up your family doctor to speak clearly and briefly about medical issues and schedule appointments promptly. Still, nowadays, it can be difficult to even talk directly with your doctor on the phone. This failure of communication and customer service isn’t due to a lack of innovation or streamlining. In fact, the electronic health record has totally transformed how healthcare is documented and communicated. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough thought put into how this system affects the patient in the end.
The system uses a series of codes to quickly communicate diagnosis, treatment, and payment information to an insurance company or other healthcare institution. These codes and notes about a patient are available on the electronic health record, but in many cases, only one doctor knows the whole story of a patient. Every other person in the system only gets broad strokes from the record.
This means that even very cooperative people doing their best to communicate with patients can be hindered by the system. Visits can be lengthy and involve piles of confusing paperwork that is rarely explained, office staff is often overworked and given incomplete information, and doctors are rarely informed or in touch with how much a treatment will cost the patient. The system and nature of healthcare in America today prioritizes moving as many patients through the office in a day as possible and communicating those patients’ codes as efficiently as possible.
If healthcare professionals want to change the landscape to be more customer-focused, it will take a shift in attitude and attention to the individual patient. Doctors need to find the treatment that works best for each patient and make sure the course of treatment is clearly explained. Office staff needs clear and correct information to communicate with concerned patients. And if there are any hiccups along the way, there needs to be more than one person who has the necessary knowledge to resolve an issue.
The day of neighborhood doctors being just a phone call away may be gone, but the modern landscape can still evolve into a more inviting and friendly experience for patients. When patients are recognized and treated as more than codes to the system, there are more opportunities for people working within the system to communicate and serve patients.
It is patients’ responsibility to search out doctors that work the best for them and communicate well with both you and your insurance. It is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to remember that each patient is an individual, and any health issue can be a daunting challenge. Communication and individual care go a long way.