Healthcare Productivity – Valuing Patients’ Time

November 22nd, 2010 by DCPatient Leave a reply »

I write this as I sit on hold for now going on 1:05:50 hours trying to schedule an MRI at Georgetown Hospital.  Yes, I named names. I usually don’t.  But the list of offenses against patientdom by Georgetown now runs so long my head might pop off. They clearly do not value patients time. If I did not need to be seen by an academic medical center, specifically, one with a transplant center, I would be so out of here.

There is much abuzz for the past few months on how HIT can improve hospital workflow and healthcare practitioner productivity. Never once have I heard anyone speak about trying to improve patient productivity. But I guess no one ever considered that my time and those of other patients is valuable.

Let’s consider just this one test.

1.       I was mailed one slip of paper a week after I spoke with my physician– a universal test requisition form. No instructions on how to schedule, when to schedule, where to go, preparation instructions, anything.

2.        I had to call my doctor’s office and request this practical information. On hold only 3 minutes that time.

3.       I call to schedule an appointment. So far this is 1:14:26 and counting.

4.       Assuming I get an appointment (big assumption), I know I need to allow extra time to park because the current parking is woefully inadequate.

(note as I was wrapping up I was finally connected 1:28:44 – no apology. 1st dates/times given were incorrect because of the type of test I need. Then offered 12/21 date – forget egg nog, pass the contrast. So my test ordered 10/29/10 will not be done until 1/10/11. And I have to get renal function tests beforehand – I know what they are for, but no explanation was offered)

5.       There is the wait for the test, usually no relationship to actual appointment time.

6.       I have never yet gotten non –ER lab or other test results back in less than 2 weeks.  Often I have to be proactive about tracking them down with my doctor.

7.       Then I guess we start all over again for whatever treatment is necessary.

By my calculations this will take at least 8 hours of my time not counting the meditation time it will take to recover from the frustration. A full work day’s worth of effort for just one test. Multiply this by millions of patients. Can our economy afford this?

What if:

1.       My doctor’s office (at this same institution mind you) scheduled the appointment for me or could point me to online scheduling options.

2.       Directions, instructions, etc were available online and downloadable.

3.       Any prerequisite tests would be ordered automatically or at least an alert sent up to my doctor that she needs to write an order.

4.       MRI results were available promptly and accessible through a patient portal.

5.       A follow up call or visit was automatically requested/scheduled prompted by the MRI results.

If I hung up I would be labeled a non-compliant patient, not following up on my doctor’s instructions, a bad patient.  What responsibility does the institution have to make healthcare work?

1:39:45 hours

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