Would You Buy a Car the Way You Buy Medical Care?

I was at book club the other night, pouring another glass of Chardonnay, when my friend told me that in August she was diagnosed with three blocked arteries, one of which is 100 percent blocked. I could rant about the fact that she’s been walking around like this for three months with only a beta blocker and statin as treatment, but that’s fodder for another blog.

When I talked to her she had an appointment with a cardiologist in our area. “Oh, he’s wonderful,” she said. because that’s what she’d heard from other people. What she didn’t realize, however, is that “wonderful” doesn’t mean good. She didn’t know how often he performed the procedure she might need; how well his patients did with or without surgery; what ties he might have to the pharmaceutical or medical device industry that could bias his recommendations; if he’d had any malpractice suits against him and how they’d turned out.

Choosing a doctor based only on what your friends tell you is like buying a car based on its color, something few of us would do. Instead, we research cars to find out which gets the best gas mileage, its safety record, its cost. … Continue Reading

CABG doctor offices healthcare system; patient-centered care patient-centered healthcare quality

Preparing for a (Gulp!) Colonoscopy: What It Says About Our Healthcare System

As of November 30, I am now, as my gastroenterologist puts it, 39 + 11 years old. You know what that means! So, a couple of weeks ago I called his office to make an appointment.

I would have preferred to simply make the appointment online or even e-mailed the office, but since the practice didn’t offer this, I fought my phonaphobia and punched in the numbers. Of course, I went through five prompts before getting a live person and was put on hold for a few minutes. About 10 minutes later, I finally had my appointment.

I was told to arrive at 2:30 p.m., which I dutifully did. Then the receptionist gave me a stack of paperwork to complete. And a pen. Among the information I had to provide:

• My husband’s Social Security number, since our insurance comes courtesy of his job. Not sure why this was needed, since the receptionist made a copy of my insurance card, which has all pertinent information on it. Not to mention that in this day and age of identity theft, I don’t like giving out Social Security numbers to anyone. But the last time I refused to provide a Social Security number … Continue Reading

Affordable Care Act customer service doctor offices get better health good health health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system; patient-centered healthcare prevention

I’m Hosting Grand Rounds!

Just what every non-MD fantasizes about: hosting a Grand Rounds! Ok, ok, it’s not the kind of grand rounds in a hospital where I get to impart my vast medical knowledge to other healthcare professionals (a good thing, too, given that the initials after my name are MS [master of science in biomedical writing] not MD). Instead, it’s the Grand Rounds for GetBetterHealth, a blog site for all things medical/health related. Grand Rounds is a weekly summary of the best health blog posts on the Internet.

What this means is that I will post a blog here (that will be carried on Get Better Health and other sites), aggregating the best blog postings in the health/medical field that week. For my Grand Rounds–which will appear Tuesday, June 22, 2010–-I’d like to focus on a subject near and dear to my heart: customer service in healthcare (you can read a post on the topic here).

So if you’re interested in having your blog on this topic promoted (or you write an awesome health/medical-related blog and want me to feature it), email me directly at debra@debragordon.com. Put Grand Roundsin the subject line and give me a one-paragraph description of your blog. You’ll … Continue Reading

customer service doctor offices get better health Grand Rounds

Customer Service in Healthcare

Just read an article about a new web-based service called MedWaitTime that allows patients to check if their doctor is running late before heading to the office for their appointment, kind of like you can check to see if your flight is late before heading to the airport.


Nothing peeves me more than sitting in a doctor’s office reading 4-month-old tattered magazines on topics I care nothing (Saltwater Fishing? Seriously?) not because the doctor had an emergency (when is the last time a dermatologist had to run out to save someone) but because the office staff routinely double books. I can’t count the number of times I walked out (my limit is 30 minutes unless I’m in agony) after giving the front office a targeted piece of my mind.

Since we’re on the topic of customer service as it applies to medicine, here are few other areas in which medical offices and their staffs could improve when it comes to customer service:

Get a web site and put the paperwork you need from us online. Filling out forms with a pen is so 1990s. In fact, how about letting us book appointments online? My mammography center does this and … Continue Reading

customer service doctor offices