Updated: Apr 17, 2019
Having moved to the suburbs from the city recently and deciding to nest in the burbs, when it came time to go to the doctor, I had to make a decision. Though my previous city team was in place and I was comfortable with the care received from them, I decided to get out of my comfort zone, breaking the last ties to the city, by choosing a healthcare team in the burbs. This week, I had a reminder of the importance of my career as a Consultant in medical aesthetics, and was pleasantly surprised to see that at least a portion of what I preach, is still being practiced.
Waking into an office that was very dated and basic in appearance, I proceeded to the front desk for check in. The person at the front desk was efficient, although appearing tired beyond her years, and not in her happy place. Filling out all of the usual forms and providing the usual insurance card and ID, I sat down to enjoy a very current magazine and was pleasantly surprised at only a short wait. I was ushered into an exam room that was also dated beyond years. However with that said, the exam room did include an iPad, conveniently mounted on a stand for entertainment, while waiting for the doctor. For full discloser, I was familiar with the company providing both the iPad and the nearby wall board, at no cost to the practice, as I have placed these items in practices to help an otherwise bland exam room. Unfortunately this particular room needed much more than these a few modern accents in order to even become close to modern.
The short wait for the physician was acceptable, and once he walked into the room, I thought the physician matched the decor - not only in body, also in dress. The physician began with one of my pet peeves, by not properly introducing himself, or even offering a handshake. Whenever I meet a physician, whether it be in business, or as a patient, I never introduce myself as “Mr. Treadwell”, I simply say “Hi! I’m John!” followed by a handshake if the person’s comfortable with that. When a physician refuses to use their first name during introductions, it’s a turn-off (for me) and sets a negative tone for the consult, and for any conversation that follows. Though physicians historically are taught to be addressed by “Dr _”, I’ve never cared for this tired, pretentious tradition practiced by doctors and their patients. Why NOT use your first name in introductions? Patients already know you’re a physician, and respect your education, knowledge, and capability. Otherwise, why would they choose you as their physician?
Settling in for the questions, exam, and the physician’s recommendations, I never expected what was to follow. He used an iPhone to dictate notes, never picking up a pen, iPad, or typing on a computer. He soon put the phone down, facing me and said that he was an “old fashion doctor”, taught to look directly at patients, rather than looking at a computer and typing/talking to a computer. Using a smart phone to dictate notes was his way of connecting to his patients, without having to look away at a clipboard or chart during consultations.
Although he was awkward in many ways, I was beyond impressed with his explanation of verbal note-taking (dictating), leaving him available to offer personal, medical care. At that moment, I knew I had discovered something rare in medical practices, “the human approach” and I knew I chose the right doctor, regardless of his dress, or the decor of his office.
Far too many providers are attached to their iPads, computers, or even their smartphones, rather than personalized, patient care. It’s a sad commentary of todays medical care that’s forced by insurance companies.