Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MinM: A Wishlist for Doctor Appointments

My wishlist for Dr offices is long and growing.. here are a few of the (mostly) easy things that would make my many appointments much easier.

- Truly, I wish that there were not multiple stations to deal with to get back to the office. I get that it's partly psychological -- to take up time so it doesn't seem like such a long wait.

But here's the thing. I (clearly) have mobility issues, and being an aspiring e-patient, I do not usually arrive at the doctor's empty handed.

So it's actually a pretty frustrating and tiring burden to jump through the multiple stations for check-in and weight and blood pressure...

So first on the wishlist would be an alternative workflow for those of us that have a hard time getting around.

But if we assume that there are still stations of some kind, I would love to see:

- Shelf and Coat Hook for cellphone and purse or totebag.

I'm not one of those people who feels the need to shed layers and footwear for the scale, but there is almost never a place to put my bag and cellphone down, so they wind up on the floor, or the poor nurse winds up trying to juggle it along with their clipboard...

Very simple solution: a wall hook and a shelf next to the scale.


- Cane/walking stick storage

Whether it's at the check-in circuit, or sitting in the exam room, there's not a good place put my walking sticks or crutches. They are in the way, and awkward, and if I try to prop them up on a wall they fall over. It's frustrating and distracting. I'd love a place to put them so I don't have to keep watch over whether they're about to fall or trip someone up.

Full disclosure, I have no idea if these mop grippers are the right size for most canes, crutches, or walking sticks, but I'm definitely going to give them a test-run in my entrance hall.

- Chair at the Reception Desk

The initial check-in process is not always smooth, and after waiting in line it is crazy hard to stand up for an entire conversation and wait for the computer to catch up and get the right forms turned in and everything. My kingdom for a chair.

- Outline/Agenda

I've had the opportunity to visit more than 20 medical providers over the past 3 years, and there's a certain amount of psychology that goes into preparing for a visit. Different doctors like to run appointments in completely different ways. Which makes sense. We are different people, who take in information differently, and use different strategies to organize relevant info and come up with the best solution.

But this puts a big burden on a (presumably ill) patient to understand and adapt to each doctor's 'learning style'.

I would love for my doctors to ditch the long, specific checklists that usually don't have my specific issues listed (and very little room for other answers).

Instead I would love to see a very open-ended, one page form that gives more structure to the appointment. Like: 'What's changed since the last appointment?' and Quality of Life stuff, like 'What daily activities give you the most trouble?'... Now that I'm thinking about it, expect a separate post on this topic.

It could also include info like where to find helpful resources. Patients are a captive audience while they wait, use the time well.

- Easier check-in process

This is a dream-big type of scenario, but if we're talking about tech that actually improves life for everyone:

- Text message appointment reminders that allow me to confirm or cancel the appointment with a text. (Kudos to the local offices that are already doing this!)

- Text message if appointments are running more than 30 minutes behind schedule, and give me the option to reschedule if I need to.

- Kiosk check-in that actually checks you in.

A local office claims to have this but it actually is just a glorified 'take a number' situation which is more than annoying.

Side note: This office also started a high-tech tagging system, where they give you an rfid bracelet when you check-in so they can track you.

Except this has added to the check-in time, and now if you get to an appointment 20 minutes early, you are likely to still be 'late' to the appointment (cutting into your appointment time) because it takes so long to jump through the hoops.

I finally gave up one day and just walked straight back. Chaos and catastrophe! as everyone was shocked! I could just choose to bypass their elaborate technology. I thoroughly enjoyed it, I'm not going to lie.

(It worked because the providers are religiously on-schedule, and always at the same station. Wouldn't have been able to pull it off in a normal office.)

Those are just some of the small things that I thought about while at my last appointment. What are the things that frustrate you when navigating medical appointments?


  1. I love my doctors that do text reminders where you can confirm or reschedule appointments. These would all be useful things at a doctors office.

    1. Text reminders make life so much easier! Thanks for commenting!