Three Doctor’s Appointments, Three Cases of Technology Problems & Some Appointment Location Confusion
Thankfully, I'm relatively healthy. I have occasional doctor visits for a few minor conditions. Some visits go smoothly, but some (or most?) highlight opportunities to better incorporate technology into clinic practices.
Back in December, I visited my primary care physician to be greeted by this sign on the front door:
I didn't get a chance to ask exactly what the issue was. Clearly, using “E-Check In” in the “MyChart” app wasn't helping the patient or the front desk staff. If patients HAD used the app, they were being asked to do
I wonder how many patients didn't see the sign and then ended up sitting there in the waiting room with the clinic thinking they hadn't shown up. I'd like to think a patient would eventually speak up after waiting a bit (and waiting rooms often have signs asking patients to talk to somebody if they've been waiting more than X minutes).
I don't know if this was a case of being “temporarily broken” or if this was a longer-standing implementation issue of “it's never worked.”
As a patient, I don't understand the benefit of checking in through an app. I do see great benefit in the MyChart app for seeing test results and communicating with the office. It's far better than a few years ago when a doctor wanted to FAX results to me, as I blogged about.
I'm home today and tomorrow and have two appointments at different specialists. I know you might be doubting my claims of health at this point.
Both practices sent text message reminders of the appointment (and one also emailed, which seemed like overkill).
Both texts created confusion about something as simple as WHERE the appointment is.
I have a problem with one of my fingers, so I got referred to an orthopedic group that has two offices in different suburbs near me.
I was pretty certain my appointment was set for the “Heritage Trace” location, about 30 minutes from my home.
So the first text says “Heritage Trace.” The second text includes the address for the Grapevine office, which is closer to my home.
Why would they send the main office address in this reminder?
I dug into the original appointment confirmation email and it says Heritage Trace… so I hope that really is the case.
I didn't notice the potential discrepancy until office hours last night, of course. I can try to call them when they open, but I have a work conference call to do… the timing isn't great to try to figure that out.
My appointment tomorrow is a follow up with another specialist I have seen a few times. At the end of my last appointment, the office front desk staffer gave me a heads up that the next appointment would be at a different location, since the office is moving. OK, thanks. I put that address into my calendar.
Yesterday, I get an automated “Smart Text” about my appointment:
The reminder gave the OLD address. Of course, this led to me having to call and leave a voicemail with questions. Did the move get delayed? Or, did they just not update their “smart” system? The system is not smart enough to accept a reply text, as I tried to do.
None of these are life-and-death issues, but it does show a lack of customer focus and a lack of attention to detail. If you're managing a clinic, are you taking steps to make sure you view operations through the eyes of your patients? Are you customer focused?
There are many other examples out there about how healthcare can do better.
See updates to the story, below, in the comments.