No, YOU Update

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A few weeks ago I was asked to “update” my information at a dentist’s office, as commonly happens annually at pretty much all my practitioners.  Perhaps you have the same experience: by “update” what they really mean is, “Here, waste your time filling out this entire form so you can give us again all the information we already have in our computer. Plan to have to take out your wallet and phone to look up ID and phone numbers you already gave us before, but, you know, fuck you, do it all over again.” This makes me irrationally angry.  This was during a visit on my own to a periodontist.  I’ve been alternating between my regular dentist and the periodontist for a bit because some of my gum probe gaps were up to 5mm or 6mm.  And no, that’s not dirty.

This would not be so bad, except it was just a few months after the day when I took myself and my two kids to the dentist for back-to-back-to-back appointments.  And guess what, yep, all three of us were due for “updates”.  I had to sit there and waste my time filling out three forms from scratch so that I could give them, three more times, a bunch of information they already had in their records.  All three of us have the same address and so on, but I had to repeat the exercise three times to replace the information that was exactly the fucking same for all three of us as it had been since we started going there.  This was just infuriating, especially since the receptionist was just going to sit there going through the forms, noting that yep, same address, same phone number, same birthdays, and so on, only to file these forms I just completed somewhere no one would ever look at them again. (Not to mention that these forms usually are poorly designed, and do not leave enough space for the information they are asking about.  How many of us can fit our e-mail address into a space that’s the size of my gum probe gaps?)

Being the mature adult that I am, I immediately proceeded to bitch and moan on social media, much like now.  But I also went to Reddit, found a subreddit on dentisry, and asked if there were federal or professional licensure requirements that FORCE medical / dental offices to operate like this with total disregard for modern technology and record keeping, or do individual practices just stick with their procedures because they can’t be bothered to try to use the resources at hand to make the process more efficient?  I was given several answers that no, there were no such requirements, and some practitioners told me that in their practice they employ iPads and other things invented after the typewriter to allow patients to interact with and truly update their records as needed.  So it seems the sad truth is that medical and dental practices that ask you to update your records by filling out redundant forms on a clipboard are not doing that for any reason other than they can’t be bothered to improve their system.  And you know, when I am paying the equivalent of $500 per hour or more for a service, just maybe I can have the expectation that my experience as a patient is being considered.

So to all those practitioners who keep asking me to “update my records” before handing me a clipboard with a stack of blank pages on it, how about: fuck that noise, YOU update!  Update your technology.  Update your record keeping system.  Update the small amount of crap you seem to give for the patient experience at your office.

The Interview

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So here is how I imagine the interview process goes:

After the bus finishes driving around gathering candidates no younger than 68 years old, they are put in a room to be interviewed one at a time.

“Thanks for being interested in our position, I just have a few questions. First, are you strong enough to push a shopping cart?”

“Well, barely, I would have to move very slowly, but I can get it going if I try hard enough.”

“Perfect. Are you free during the hours of 9am and 4pm? This is the best time to fill the grocery store with our team members.”

“Yes, our Bingo game doesn’t start until 5pm.”

“Great. Now, I know it’s been a long time since you’ve been in school, but we need people who are strong in geometry and trigonometry. Are you good at that stuff?”

“Why?”

“Well, we need people who are good at geometry to be able to locate the exact exact center of the aisles, so they can leave their cart precisely there – making it impossible for anyone to get by. And we need people who know their trigonometry to be able to trace out a sine curve with their cart as they are slowly pushing it along an aisle and actually moving.”

“Oh, that makes sense, I guess. I have to say I wasn’t that strong in math, but I remember the fundamentals.”

“We also have a training program, in case you need to brush the dust off, so that’s no problem. Now move over here to our mock aisle set up, where a cart is already placed exactly in the center of a a mini aisle, and there is a can of spinach on the shelf nearby. Please have a look at that can of spinach. Can you read the first item on the list of ingredients?”

“Well, let me get over there …. Sure. It says ‘water’ “.

“Sigh. I’m sorry to let you know that you are not qualified for our position after all.”

“Really? That’s disappointing. Why not?”

“Because you were able to read the list of ingredients right away. You did really well in not attempting to move the cart out of the way in either direction, that was ideal. But then when you picked up the can of spinach, you were able to read the ingredients right away. You did not need to tilt the can in multiple different directions, or even try to move it into better light or exchange it with a different can. Also, you showed great awareness of your surroundings as you moved from the chair over to here, and that did not display the level of utter obliviousness that we usually require.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, unfortunately, when our business is to make sure people shopping in the middle of the day are constantly blocked by slow oblivious people and prevented from getting around them in the aisles, and so forcing them to take longer looks at the shelves, and possibly see more stuff to buy, we have to stick to our exacting standards. Even the slightest lapse might allow one of these people to get through the store faster than they should. We just can’t have that.”

“Well, I certainly understand.”

“Thank you for your time, and good luck. NEXT!!”