Is the wave of the future of healthcare to have docs give up private offices and move into clinics where they share staff and resources?
I recently had cataract surgery. I need another at the end of this month but, the very people who have cared for me throughout all of this time and my surgery, have all been fired. I learned of this news yesterday in a post-op check-up and pre-op visit.
This is the third of my specialists who have opted out of a private office, fired their staffs and moved into a clinic setting where they share common secretaries, assistants and offices. It’s not that a patient can go to any of the docs in the clinic should your doc not be available either. It appears to be simply a cost saving arrangement for the docs.
Ok, everyone is entitled to make the most money that they can by cutting down overhead expenses. However, this has been an ongoing trend with docs and not many are pleased with the arrangements on several fronts.
Firstly, many people are now out of work.
Secondly, as a patient, there is no real personalized care nor, the ability to get help when you need it.
As I was being told the news yesterday and being handed a card with this doc’s new address on it, I couldn’t help feeling sadness for the staff and anger at this move of hers. I hugged each of the staff who had been taking such wonderful care of me throughout the years of being a patient there. I choked up and tears fell, along with theirs. Each and every one of them are beautiful people who make a clinical and cold feeling doctor’s visit, much more pleasant, caring and feeling less stressful. They are the “Front Line”. They are the ones who help the patients more than the doctor does. Yet, all of these wonderful people are being put out of jobs and, with the employment situation being what it is in the world today, likely will have a tough time in finding another job easily, quickly or perhaps, not at all. I felt their pain and selfishly, I felt my own as I will miss all of them and their caring, loving, kindnesses, terribly.
If you have a doctor who works out of a clinic setting, sharing resources, you likely can understand what it is that I’m talking about when I say that there is no personalized care in these settings. You’re asked for your insurance or health cards (depending upon where you live in this world) and you’re asked to take a seat amongst dozens of other people, waiting to see either your doc or another. The staff is hurried, overworked, underpaid (for all that they do) and, you are nothing but another number and chart in their day. There is no time to get to know us as people. We’re simply “next” on their pile of charts after we’ve checked in.
The doctors are also often less prepared as things don’t run as personally or smoothly and even fraught with errors with a clinical setting like this one. That already puts a doctor into a less personalized mode and way of thinking because this setting tends to lend itself to de-personalization. An already cold feeling doc especially, a specialist, will appear even less personable to their patients.
Moreover, try getting through to get questions answered or appointments booked when you have a problem that needs tending to by your doc under these circumstances. Being nothing but a number, a chart, another phone call message jotted down on a piece of paper and shuffled onto a desk, along with dozens of others, does not make the patient feel secure that they’ll ever receive a return call. I cannot count the number of times that I’ve not had a return call because messages haven’t gotten to the doctors or been lost and, ended up in an E.R., waiting for hours to be seen to ask simple questions or make an appointment to ask those questions. I’ve been seen and met by simply another frazzled, overworked doctor and set of staff who are looking after dozens upon dozens of unknown patients, likely also in the same boat.
What struck me most as I looked at the card I’d been given with the new address on it was that not only was all of the above, applicable but, I was also now having to go a much further distance, little parking, congested area and not exactly the nicest of areas of the city that I live in. Did she care? That’s all that was running through my mind. Several other patients grumbled as they realized where they’d also have to go now.
“Aren’t we what matters?” one woman, sitting beside me, wondered allowed. “Why would she want all of her patients to have to travel to this area?”
I couldn’t have agreed with her more.
This led to a whole realm of other questions as well but, the main one that seemed to be running through most of our minds was, did the doctor care more about her patients or her wallet?
Thankfully, this woman is not someone I will be seeing on a regular basis, such as my primary care or family physician but moreover, she is the one who will do the most stress-filled work with us as patients. She will be the one doing the surgeries and it will be her that we will have to address our questions to. It will be the common staff that will be answering (or, from experience, not) answering our calls and being the front line. That, in and of itself, makes it stress filled.
Where are the days when local shops knew us as customers as opposed to big box chain stores, restaurants, banks and other services who are so large and cold that no one has the chance to get to know us and treat us like people with names and faces and, bottom lines weren’t laying in their back pocket wallets? Even our veterinarians have turned their practises into big business and a lot of them end up selling out to having other vets running their practises while they reap in the money by raping our wallets. No one seems to care personally anymore. At least, it’s rare to find that in anything or anyone in today’s world.
Healthcare is one of the most important parts of our lives besides our families and friends. Without good health, other things don’t mean as much or go as far. Our health rules our lives and we need good doctors and good healthcare to have that to the best of both ours and their abilities.
What will happen to this doctor’s staff now that they are all out of jobs?
What will happen to us, as patients and our health because of this choice that’s been made for all of us by a doctor who is thinking of her own circumstances, not everyone else’s?
Whatever lays ahead, it’s seemingly the new trend with doctors nowadays and it’s not to our best interests but, rather theirs. While it’s hard to find a doctor in today’s world and especially, some countries, it’s making me want to boycott docs who do this type of thing to their patients and their staffs.
That may not be possible but, it’s the way that I’m seeing things from my little corner of life at this moment.