'Care' can make the difference

November 15, 2010

Providing appropriate amount of care to each patient is important.

When I would witness this in my clinic, my usual reaction would be to walk by the technician's door with an overexaggerated smile on my face and give a silent, but firm, indication to "jolly up" the exam.

But then I started to recognize, sadly, that this manager was witnessing technician burnout. Worse yet, if she was noticing it, the patients not only were noticing it, but they were feeling the lack of care. Add to that the brief 4 or 5 minutes they were going to have with the physician in a whirlwind exam.

Offices that once had structured schedules have learned to become much looser in their scheduling philosophies. Although the lucky offices have managed to ride out this storm, there has been a cost. Because of the loosened scheduling parameters offices have adopted, the phrase "clinic flow" often is thrown by the wayside.

Maximizing clinic appointment times has added bottlenecks in the once highly orchestrated flows. It also has decreased the amount of time that the staff has had giving that little extra something of caring and spending time with the patient.

Patients are noticing this. In the past, I have talked with managers who receive complaints from patients that the physician does not spend enough time with them. To be truthful, I have received those calls as well.

But now I am hearing complaints that the staff is not giving patients the same amount of attention as it once did. Patients are paying more for the exams and we are offering less, in their opinion.