I went with my dad to his doctor today. The visit went very well – the doctor was great, spent the needed time with us to go over everything we needed to review (we had written out our questions in advance). I hadn’t met my dad’s internist before, and I came away very impressed in his manner, how he speaks to patients and family, and how he had been in touch with the specialist involved, so everyone was on the same page.
My wife, in the waiting room, witnessed a different scene. A patient was getting the run around from the office manager. He needed a blood draw done frequently, and they wanted it done in their office so they would get the result right away – so far so good. The problem was that he was variously told he didn’t need an appointment and he that he should get an appointment. They only had one person who could do the blood draw. Situation? Stalement. The patient isn’t getting care, and the patient is, rightfully, annoyed and perplexed.
In a situation like this, the job of the office manager/administrator is to fix the problem. The patient/customer does not care what your problems are – if having one person to draw bloods doesn’t work, train or hire another one. In this case, the patient was doing what he was asked to do, and the staff spent a lot of time talking to him – but never got the blood drawn! Five minutes? Get the tech, get it done. If the only option was to send the patient out, the office manager should make the arrangements to have the results faxed over right away. Not all commercial labs can do it (as some are only draw stations) but some can. This manager should know what the options are – either know it, or find out.
In my early hospital administration career, I worked at a hospital which had an administrator on the premises 24/7. We had one goal – fix the problem. Sometimes we ran up to get lab and results and bring them back to the ER. Sometimes we helped move patients to their room. Lots of times we talked with patient’s families, usually because there was a lack of communication that had to be overcome. Whatever it was, we made sure it got done. Today, some 20 years later, the
Fix the problem. If a patient is waiting, if they are obviously getting different instructions, just apologize and take care of them. It doesn’t really matter who is “right” or “wrong” – just fix it and move on. Later, you can go back and figure out how to prevent it from happening again. In the case of this patient, figure out way for the patient to get the blood test that the physician wants done, and the results the same day.