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Health Care Doesn’t Care October 7, 2018

Posted by Peter Varhol in Uncategorized.
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A couple of incidents last week reminded me that while the U.S. might have the “health” part down pretty well, it is very much lacking in the “care” part.  The first incident surrounded a hospital appointment I have later this week.  Thursday I received an automated text asking me to confirm the appointment.

On the surface, this sounds like a good application of technology.  However, the text told me to respond by 9 PM.  I happened to be several time zones away, active at a conference, and didn’t see the text until after 9 PM EDT.  I responded anyway, and my response was rejected.  And the texts contained no phone number to call to confirm my appointment.  I hope they haven’t cancelled it, as it took me about two months to get this appointment, but I have to wait until Monday when this office is staffed to find out.

Second, Thursday also I received a call from another doctor’s office, and was told that I needed to consult with the doctor before renewing a prescription.  I explained that I was traveling almost every day between now and mid-November (about six weeks).  She repeated that my prescription wouldn’t be renewed until I saw the doctor.  I asked if I could schedule an appointment for mid-November.  No, I was told, that schedule wasn’t available yet.

I’m not unduly concerned, as the condition this prescription treated is much better, and I would only need to take it occasionally.  But here is the problem.  Our health care system is concerned only about itself, not its customers (patients).  The hoops they make their customers jump through are almost entirely for their convenience.  In my stories above, there is no apparent rationale for requiring a response within four hours, and to not provide other contact information is simply criminal.  While I appreciate that a doctor might want to consult on my condition and make adjustments to the prescription, there is no earthly reason why their schedule does not go out six weeks into the future.

And regrettably, there is no alternative for customers except to deal with the system.

Let me also say that I have encountered a number of fine and caring individual health care professionals.  It’s not the individuals that are the problem (for the most part); it is the system.  Now, you may argue that the people are the system, and I might agree with you.  But most of the health care professionals I talk to feel helpless to change it.

Both health care professionals and their customers have to rise up in revolution and take control.  It is the only thing we can do.  Together, we can reinsert the “care” into health care.