Friday, October 24, 2008

Payment is expected BEFORE services rendered...

I went to my annual GYN appointment the other day & I have to say it was one of the first times EVER that I didn’t dread it. Look forward to it?, not so much, but at least this year I didn’t offer to trade places with the guy who drives the gut truck @ the chicken plant.

No, I didn’t dread it because I’ve got the best Gynecologist EVER!! I truly love her. If you’re ever around the North Alabama area and have the urge to get a check-up, she’s the ONLY one to go to. Wait, you can’t just go on an urge, she’s booked through Oct 2009. She’s THAT good!!

Oh, and KUDOS to her great staff members, from the front office who watch out for her so well, and to her nurses who immediately put the patients @ ease w/their kindness & professionalism.

HOWEVER… (oh, com’on, you knew it was coming…)

One of the new office policies had my blood pressure up and me stressing. Here’s what happened:

1:12pm (or so) I walked in to the office for my 1:30 appointment, signed in, and sat down
1:14pm the Receptionist calls me up gives me a clipboard and says they need updated records and a copy of my insurance card. I sat down to complete the forms
1:15pm returned the clip board along w/insurance card and sat back down
1:17pm I was already getting tired of the "stand up/sit down routine, but have come to expect it to some extent, when the Receptionist calls me up to give back my card and tells me that I need to go back and pay my co pay and then return to my seat to wait for the
nurse to call me back. . .

Me: PAY MY CO-PAY?, but I haven’t even seen the doctor… Why do I need to pay it now?
Her: That’s the new policy that was put in place back in January.
Her: Well because we’ve had so many people that just walk out without paying after they’ve seen the Dr.
Me: I think if you’ll look at my records, you’ll find that I’ve NEVER done that.
Her: Well, so many people do.
Me: Why do I need to pay for something that someone else has done?
Her: That’s the new policy that was implemented in January.
Me: So what happens if I don’t get to see the Doctor today?
Her: We’ll give your check back to you.
Me: Well, how ‘bout if I just show you that I’ve written it and then I’ll give it to you AFTER I’ve seen the doctor?

I just got THE look and so I reluctantly handed them my check and went back out to the waiting room to fume. And when they took me back, my blood pressure was up. MY blood pressure is NEVER high. That fact alone was enough to make me mad.

Soap Box, PLEASE:

I am soooo tired of suffering the consequences for the things that our “beloved”, indigents, low-life’s, and generally unethical people are willing to do. I understand that MY Dr. deserves to be paid for the services she provides. In fact MY Dr. deserves it more than some just because she does such a good job and is willing to publicly give credit to God for her success. And I PROMISE THAT I WILL PAY EVERYTHING I OWE (if for some reason, I'm not able to pay, I will either not go to my appointment, or make arrangements with them BEFORE keeping an appointment) and I might even take her donuts someday as a bonus. But I shouldn’t have to meekly go along with a “policy” that was implemented just because someone else won’t live up to their responsibilities.

That being said, someone once told me NEVER to issue a complaint or criticism without also having a solution to offer, so here it is. Actually I have two of them, how’s that for a deal?

1. in this technological day and age, we use computers for everything including patient records, and scheduling appointments. The office staff knows my birthdate, my address, phone numbers and social security number. Somewhere in their system they keep up with my billing information too. They even send out reminder cards to let me know that my appointment date is coming up. How hard would it be to add a marker to those records that allows them to FLAG the persons who have walked out without paying their co-pay? Then put a system in place that says after ONE offense, THEY have to pay their co-pay up front or not see the Dr. I think one lost co-pay per patient would be well worth the GOOD WILL and peace of mind of the rest of the patients. (Remember there ARE some of us, probably the majority, who always pay what they owe so the actual loss would not be that great)

2. my other suggestion is also technological in nature. Why not use a buzzer system? A doctor’s office keeps medications and equipment and records that are highly sensitive and need to be well protected, so it would make sense that a person would have to be “buzzed” back from the waiting room to the exam rooms. The same thing could be easily explained when leaving the exam rooms to exit the office. I was in a store one time that had that exact set up. And the buzzer was remote so that the owner of the store could wear it on his belt. All he had to do was push a button to allow the entry of someone into his store, and then when the transaction was completed, he pushed the button to let them out. This was a good way to control not only who came in, but also to give him some control as to who left. In the case of the Dr’s office, a person who didn’t pay their co-pay when they left could be detained. And since they would know the system ahead of time, they would probably be less likely to allow themselves to be “buzzed” back if they intended to try to leave without paying. The rest of us (the ones who always pay our bills, again, I think we’re probably the majority) would feel safer knowing that there was a system in place to keep criminals from being able to steal the above mentioned medications, equipment and records, and we wouldn’t feel like we were automatically under suspicion when we walk into the office. Again, creating a sense of Peace and Good Will.

Not only would this keep people’s Blood Pressure at normal levels, BEST OF ALL, My awesome Doctor wouldn’t have to hear me gripe about the un-fairness of it all. Instead she could just concentrate on the pleasant-ness that is a gynecological exam.

… and that’s all I’ve got to say ‘bout that!!!


Jacqueline said...

Did you tell the office?

Lenka said...

Glad you asked? I am sending a copy of the Blog to the office this week, and a copy to my DR. I figure they don't have a chance to fix anything if they don't really know it's a problem.