The Body Shop

2012-06-8 doctor or mechanic

Last week I got to observe an amazing care provider in action: my mechanic!

Within days of each other, I took my car in for a tune-up and went to my doctor for my yearly checkup. I couldn’t help but reflect on the two experiences.

Some of the differences came in the scheduling process and wait time experience.  For example:

  • I called my doctor’s office on April 6th and the first available appointment I was offered was on May 23rd (47days later).  On May 23rd I called my mechanic and was offered an appointment on May 25th (2 days later).
  • When calling my doctor’s office, I was informed by the medical office assistant what time I should show up, as compared to calling my mechanic, who asked me what time I would like to show up.
  • My medical appointment had been scheduled for 10:30am; however I wasn’t called into the exam room until 10:45am and did not see my doctor (who I absolutely adore!) until 11.  My car tune-up was scheduled for 7:30am and my car was taken in to see the mechanic at 7:30am.

However, the difference that really jumped out at me was the way our care plans were shared. At the end of my medical appointment, I walked away with much of what my doctor and I had talked about ‘tucked away’ in my brain. Or so I thought, until I got home and realized how little I truly remembered.

At the end of the tune-up, I was handed two summary reports:

  • One report outlined what my mechanic did at my last appointment, what he did at the current appointment, and what he plans to do at my future appointment (along with the estimated timing and cost). The picture below is a snap shot of this report.

  • The second report outlined the specifics of what my mechanic looked at and the condition each part or system was in.  This report provided me a quick visual summary of the overall ‘state’ of my car. The picture below is a snap shot of this report.

Rather than relying on our memories and assumptions, wouldn’t it be great if we could leave our medical appointments with a report that provides us with:

  • A list of past appointments along with who you saw;
  • An overview of examinations your doctor conducted at your current appointment;
  • A visual summary of your overall health, noting what is in ‘good condition’ and what might need more attention; and,
  • An outline of any recommendations discussed at the current appointment.

If it can be done for my car, why can’t it be done for my health?  Am I the only one who thinks there are ideas we can steal from other industries?  Or have you experienced customer service “delights” that you think would greatly enhance your health care experience?

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2 Responses to “The Body Shop”

  1. Heather Thiessen
    June 11, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Very interesting observation Debra. I have also thought that same thing. Why can’t we as patients not get a printout of our visit and keep it with us. Not only for us to review later on when not so busy but also to have if we have to visit the emergency room some day and we can actually let our ER health care provider know how we were at our last check up. This may help the ER staff get to the root of why you are visiting the emergency.

    My hope is with new technology that we can see things like this occur.

    Thanks for an interesting article.

    • Debra-Jane Wright
      Debra-Jane Wright
      June 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      thanks Heather for your comment. I am glad to hear I am not the only one who thought something like my mechanic’s summary report would be helpful as a follow up to a medical appointment, as I know I can be a bit of a nerd when it comes to tracking data.

      There are so many potential distractions when attending a medical appointment, that it is really hard to know if you have heard (let alone, understood) everything that your doctor has discussed with you. A little report like the one my mechanic shared with me, could allow patients an opportunity to reflect on the information, at a time when they feel able to concentrate more fully.

      I also think you make a great comment about how a little summary report could potentially help to enhance the continuity of care being offered across and between providers (as when needing to attend the ER in a crisis or attending a specialist appointment).

      Look forward to hearing more ideas on what other service delights people have experienced in other service industries that might improve the overall health care experience in our province.

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