Friday, September 01, 2006

Klemzig Medical Centre: Bad Customer Experience

All week I have been sick. I've stayed home Thursday, and today. My lovely girlfriend Chloe finally set up an appointment for me at the Klemzig Medical Centre. It's one of these multiple doctor setups.

The appointment: 3:15 in the afternoon.
We arrive at 3:15. A stuffy, useless old sow thrusts a form at me, and tells me to put in my name, and details. In the ample time in which she's sitting around doing not very much, instead of asking for my details and keying them into a computer; she thrusts a bit of paper at me - presumably for retyping later. This smacks of working harder, not smarter already...

I have my mother's medicare card number, not the card. I put sparse details onto the form and briefly consider circling "Ms." as my proper form of address. I shove it back - she's going to have to work to get this patient in.
Because I'm an exception to the norm, and don't have the card on me, she immediately decideds it's Not Her Job to fix this.
It's not possible to do it with medicare - because despite having the number, I don't have the card. I know that's bullshit, and I press.
You mean you can't look it up online or ring them?
A somewhat nicer staff member off to the side goes:
Yeah, hey, you can and comes to my rescue - I liked her a lot better from that moment on.

After having to be pushed outside of her comfort zone, the old biddy does some dialing. My details can't be found. Instead of looking up the card number I have provided, she and the person she talks to try searching by my name. This wastes about 5 minutes.
Eventually, I just tell her to tell them the card number provided, that it's under Linda O'Connor, and I'm the second name on the card, Daniel O'Connor.
They do this, and after much confusion, it's established that the Daniel O'Connor on the card is NOT the Daniel O'Connor standing in front of the old biddy, because the birthdates are not matched up.
Again, it's not her job to put in her initiative and ask if I have some kind of ID to check my birthdate. If I have photo ID, I'm probably who I say I am, aren't I.
Note to self: my own mother doesn't know my birthday.
I'm told to sit down and read magazines. There's 4 other people. It's now about 3:30. We sit, we wait. We wait, we sit.
I begin to grumble. It's now 20 minutes after the set appointment time. I earn enough an hour for this to be costing me serious cash - or bed rest, which is infinitely preferable.
I begin mentioning to Chloe that we are leaving if the doctor is not available in the next 5 minutes. I start harping on a bit, bitterly, about the general broken setup they have here.

A minute to spare, 24 minutes after the set appointment time, the doctor comes out.

In case you are wondering, his name is Dr Oaten. I mention, out loud that perhaps waiting 25 minutes beyond the appointment time is a bit far fetched and bad patient care. He seems confused by the concept of not making people wait to see him.

I'm ushered in. I tell him what's wrong. It sounds kind of piss poor even to me, and by this time I'm almost fully over my illness. Without so much as a question about my medical history / etc, he writes out a Certificate of Sickness.
Without batting an eyelid.
I'm not impressed.

I mention my concern about the rest of my mouth actually hurting - not just the teeth. Do you know what he says to me?
Oh, that's a dental problem then.

What? I come to you, because I have a throat infection and possibly sores in my mouth, and you fob me off with that? I thought you would, in your years of medicine, actually know what inflammation / sores / cuts in someone's mouth look like - and if it was serious, you'd say so, and if it wasn't, you'd tell me that too.

The entire appointment lasted 3 minutes.

I walk out.

I stand in front of the old hag, she ignores me. I get annoyed. I wait. She ignores me further. Fuck you, you ineffectual old sow... Finally, she gets around to shaking me down for money.

$50+ for 3 minutes of the doctor's time.

I ask her, while she's ringing it up, if it's standard practice for the doctor to overbook and delay people's treatment by up to 25 minutes.

She says she doesn't know what I mean.

I repeat - I mean to say, I arrived at 3:15, the appointment time, and waited until 3:40 before the doctor showed up, for 3 minutes, in which he did no treatment, nor took any details. Further, you screwed up my medicare and are just about useless. A bit of thinking outside of the square and you could have made this better for everyone.

This presses a button. She breaks down from her customer (un)friendly facade. She tells me I was 15 minutes late. Bullshit. I know I wasn't, as I left the house at 3:10. Even if I were 15 minutes late, the fact that the doctor was 10 further minutes late is just hopeless. I still maintain I was on time. She disagrees. I tell her that's pretty dodgy.

I tell her I won't be coming back. Chloe has run off because she can see I'm making a scene - poor Chloe :(

The whole experience just fucking well annoyed me. Doctors are just like the rest of us - if Dan the Software Developer has to field silly questions from Bob the End User, and does so amidst panic, fire, chaos all while having a smile in his voice, why the hell doesn't the Doctor have to?

There's an oath that most doctors take at some point, there's a modern adaptation of it which I've grabbed an excerpt from below.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
I don't see anywhere in there "charge $50 for 3 minutes of your time and accomplish nothing." I don't see anywhere in there that people should set up 'medical factories' (its what this place felt like) in order to get money walking in through the door as fast as possible.
What I do see in there is an obligation to treat the ill, to think of them as people rather than illnesses or inanimate things. As soon as I walked in the door, I was a paycheck.

If you are curious...
Oaten D Dr
78 O G Road
Telephone 8369 0444

Please, do book in with him if you can. You'll get no questions asked days off work, and it'll only cost you a fight with an old lady and $50.
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