Doctors Still Don't Get It (or maybe they do)

I recently had a doctor’s appointment for a routine checkup.    It’s amazing.   In a world that seems to be changing every day, both in small and big ways, doctors seem to be rooted in a kind of time machine where they are committed to doing things the same way they were done 30 years ago.   Why?   Because that’s the way it’s always been done.   It doesn’t seem to matter if the doctor is young or old, American born or foreign, male or female.    In what other industry can they get away with this?

Arrive on time and wait.   Fill out five pages of the exact same information form, by hand (!), that you completed the previous year, by hand (!).    Read magazines that are over six months old while waiting.   Or, watch daytime television (Ew!).    Finally get called into the examination room and wait some more.   Be made to wear that same blue gown.   Don’t make the same mistake I did – the opening goes in the back!    Haven’t there been any innovations in gowns in the last 30 years?    Finish with the exam and get charged some co-pay amount that doesn’t seem to match anything your insurance company told you.   Receive an invoice in the mail a month later for some amount that is not only unexpected, but completely indecipherable.

After this experience, I went back and looked at a blog I wrote a little over TWO years ago!   Almost everything I wrote is still true, and I have to share it again.   It’s titled “Running Our Business Like a Doctor’s Office”, and it goes like this:

Happy New Year!   I had to get a checkup last week at the doctor.  No big deal…it was just time.  Since that experience, I’ve decided that from now on, we’re going to operate our business like a doctor.  I can’t wait….

We’ll make our clients come to us from now on.  We won’t go to them.   For new clients, they’ll have to get to our office a half hour ahead of time to “fill out paperwork”.   Once the paperwork is done, we’ll make them wait an hour or so no matter when their appointment is.  Eventually, we’ll ask them to leave the waiting room and move to our conference room.   If I could, I would ask them to remove their clothes and wear an oppressive, self respect eliminating gown (with an opening in the back of course), although they might find it an odd request for a software company.

We’ll leave them alone in the conference room for a while.  We might check in every now and then, but probably not.   Maybe we’ll give them some magazines to read like a year old version of Glamour or a six month old version of People.  Michael Jackson died!!?   Who knew? !!!!

Eventually, just when they’re good and fed up and ready to leave, one of our consultants will come in and chat with them.  Our consultant will ask a lot of questions.  Most of the questions were questions asked on that paperwork they completed in the waiting area earlier in the day.  But, rather than look at the paperwork, the consultant will just ask the questions anyway.   What did you say your name was?   What’s the purpose of this meeting?  You know, stuff like that.

At some point our client may ask what the project will cost.   Our consultant will tell them we won’t really know until after the work is done.  And, that insurance will “probably” pay for “most” of the work.  And, not only that, but the consultant will indicate that he may need to call in other consultants and experts who will have their own charges which are currently undefineable.  The client will just accept this, because…well…they do.

After going through about 30 minutes of Q&A, the consultant will leave and tell the client that another higher level consultant will need to come in and finish.   And, 20 minutes later, we’ll send another “higher level” consultant in.  After confirming the client’s name and the purpose of the meeting (again), our consultant will definitely refer our client to another firm entirely because “they are the experts”.

Our website will say that “consultations are free”, but we’ll send the client a bill anyway.   For a lot of money.  The client may not have noticed that among the initial paperwork they signed was language that read “even though insurance is supposed to cover this, if they don’t cover it, you agree to pay whatever we charge”.   I love this!  We get to charge whatever we want, no one knows ahead of time what things cost, and the client is legally obligated to pay.   What a business !!!!!!

I’m excited to implement these changes.  My doctor’s office was overflowing with patients, so I can’t wait to see what these changes will do for us….