Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pet Peeve

I’m starting to think medical receptionists get some sort of insidious pleasure out of handing patients clipboards laden with forms that must be filled out prior to seeing the doctor. I started to see the insanity of this today when I visited my neurologist’s office.

Before I went to see this particular doctor the first time (about 10 days ago), I dutifully printed all 8 pages of forms from their website and filled them out prior to my visit. I didn’t even complain that several of those forms required me to repeat information.

But today when I went for an appointment to find out the results of a recent MRI, I was handed a clipboard with one of those same forms to fill out. When I reminded her that I had already done this just 10 days ago, she said it was REQUIRED at each visit. I quietly said “This really sucks” under my breath and filled out the form. No small surprise that my medications and the reason for my visit had not changed in the least.

In this age of automation, there is no reason why we should be dealing with paper at all. Instead of completing all those paper forms, we should be able to go online at home to fill them out (as my husband did for a recent doctor visit). When going for a repeat visit, we should be able to verify our information on a screen and provide any relevant updates.

By collecting all this data (repeatedly), the office I visited today must have to have a full-time person to do nothing more than enter or scan data. What a terrible waste for someone like me who may well be taking those same two medications for the rest of my life. Period.

But perhaps even more in question is whether I needed to make an appointment and drive 25 minutes to hear “Your MRI showed nothing.” It would seem that my time slice could have been better used by someone who could benefit from a doctor’s care and my insurance company could have been spared the cost of yet another visit.

Health care in this country is in bad need of reform! It’s this sort of thing that contributes to the fact that it remains unaffordable to a large segment of the population.


Blogger lettuce said...

that is ridiculous!

would be if it was a one page form, but EIGHT??

glad the MRI showed up nothing tho

4:15 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Lettuce -- It's just one page with each visit, but I consider even that to be unnecessary!

11:16 AM  
Anonymous bettyjoan said...

I have thought those same thoughts MANY times, mainly because, like you, I have some pesky chronic conditions that require constant testing and monitoring. If something is wrong, sure, bring me into the office and let's chat. But if everything is normal? Why can't they just tell you on the phone? Or in a letter? Argh.

I want health care reform, but I'm still figuring out exactly how we should go about it. Very complicated, as you know!

12:04 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

Yeah, I just finished a barrage of this infelicity myself.
But it doesn't compare what I went through at the pharmacy counter.
I nearly relapsed into a diabetic coma!
I'm tired of writing and talking about it for a while.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Jodith said...

when I get a repeat form like that, I usually just fill in all blanks with "no change since last visit". If they don't like it...tough!

3:34 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bettyjoan -- I often wonder how much college tuition I contributed to my dermatologist. (All 3 of his children became dermatologists!)

Let me know when you come up with the silver bullet for health care...

Bulletholes -- You do need an escape from health care for a while. You've seen our country's finest ways to waste money recently, right?

Jodith -- I'm pretty sure this office would have handed it back to me if I had tried that on the medication section. They seem paranoid about Rx. Probably because a large part of their practice are over 65 and tend to make mistakes with their pills.

3:43 PM  

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