This past Friday, the 13th mind you, was a full moon and the ironic confluence of circumstance that leads some folks to stay home on those notorious days of superstition. For me, it was a gentle tap on my bumper (at about 30 mph vs. my stopped vehicle pushing me not so gently into the car in front of me and that car into the car ahead of it) while driving home from work. Happy Friday!
A little sore through the neck and upper back, I decided to visit the local urgent care. And thus begins my foray into being the patient. My care was great! No complaints at all. Both the nurse and the PA even explained the potential emotional ramifications of a motor vehicle accident. They actually cared about me! Must be listeners of the podcast.
Time, in healthcare, is a vortex. Walking into the urgent care, a large screen with a facsimile of my name (that really only I could recognize) was posted with my approximate wait time – about an hour. Okay, I thought, only an hour. After two hours, and the board still reflecting a wait time of an hour for me, I asked the desk clerk if there was any update. Her best guess was that I’d have at least another hour to wait. To be clear, three hours would have also been fine. Mine was not a life-threatening emergency. This is the Voice of the Patient difference: They talked the talk: “We’ll post wait times in the waiting room, patients will be more satisfied.” They did not walk the walk: “Wait times? We don’t care ‘bout no stinkin’ wait times.”
Here’s the point: Communication with your patients MUST be sincere. If it’s not, you’ll be discovered as a fraud and regaining lost integrity of your word is difficult. It’s especially difficult when your patient is/was in pain. Patients (or “We” as I’m not of that club) don’t have an abundance of control when it comes to their present circumstance leading them to become patients. We do, however, control our time. When a provider devalues that time, and 1 hour turns into 3 without any communication, it’s easy to take that personally.
On the way home, my wife, with both of our kids asleep in the back seat, stops by the “24-hour pharmacy”. I know it was a 24-hour pharmacy because at least 2 signs on the outside of the building said so. Nope. When we called to make sure the script was ready, the clerk instructed us that we needed to hurry since they closed promptly at midnight. Thankfully, we pulled up at 11:58pm.