This blog is about that phone call and the follow-up testing. You know the phone call I mean. The one where the chipper woman calls and tells you there’s something wrong with the testing you did last week. It could be a doctor’s assistant calling about lab results or a hospital (in my case) staff member calling to let me know that there was “this new area” on my mammogram that needs further testing. And don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that she called on Monday morning and not Friday afternoon giving me the weekend to sit and stew!  But here’s the thing. She hadn’t really looked at the computer and/or wasn’t empowered to answer questions. For instance: why? what was seen or not seen on the original test? What was the concern? Was there a comparison to the testing done last year in Cincinnati? (Did they have the old information?)  Were there calcium deposits?  (Did the radiologist use the term “calcifications”?) You get the idea. No dice. Her job was to call and get me scheduled, not provide clinical information. Now forget for a moment that I’m a board certified ob-gyn physician. Even if I weren’t I’d still want some basic knowledge up front prior to the testing!

So then I make my appointment and check in. The receptionist doesn’t make eye contact or welcome me.  The intake clerk confirms my insurance information and collects my co-pay but never asks me how I would prefer to be addressed. I am Mrs. Harsh to everyone there. I correct the first three people who call me and ask to be called by my first name. (Yes I’m a doctor, but comfortable using my first name in just about every circumstance.) What’s your preference? Would it make you more comfortable if your preference is noted and used? Of course it would!

The waiting area is playing a brisk military march and there is a coffee pot and water dispenser. There are the usual magazines to read. And then there’s the mammogram tech. Pleasant, skilled and thorough. I ask to see the digital results from the previous test – there they are with the radiologist’s “circle” of concern. And then there’s the ultrasound tech. Pleasant, skilled and thorough. And then there’s the radiologist. Very nice and chipper because the spot compression films and the sonogram confirm the new area is a dilated duct and not pathological. Great news. No discussion about ways to reduce my risk of breast cancer. Just a “see you next year for your mammogram”.

So if I ran the hospital, I’d coach everyone in the front to introduce themselves and make eye contact and greet everyone who walked in. I’d capture the usual data for the purposes of the insurance billing and then double check if there were issues or concerns for this visit. I’d check on the clients preferences for how they were addressed. Then I’d listen to my staff and see if they had ideas for efficiency.

That’s how I’d run the (hospital) world. Focused on the patients. Allowing the professionals and their support staff to do the work they have trained their life to do. <sigh>