Dr.com

Why is it easier to get a dinner reservation for six people on a Saturday night than it is to book a teeth cleaning?  Over the last few years I have become dependent on services like Opentable.com to save me from calling every restaurant in the Zagats guide to find restaurants that can accommodate my usually last-minute requests.  It has been a lifesaver and has given me time back in my day.  No more endless waits on hold with restaurant hostesses trying to find an opening for a reservation.  No more calls to your dinner companions to check every change in detail.  Just type in the date, time and number in your party and up comes choices of restaurants that are available.  You can check out the menu, send invites to your friends and export the details right to your Outlook.

 This got me thinking: Is there an OpenTable analogy for going to the doctor? My dream is that doctor’s offices would have a similar system where you can search by day and time to see when your schedule coincides with an open appointment. It seems like this would alleviate some of the phone burden for in-office staff.  And just like OpenTable you could download the appointment information (location, time and instructions about fasting) into your Outlook calendar to be synced with your BlackBerry.  This would also set up an automated reminder system again alleviating all of the human energy being wasted talking to answering machines when they call to confirm your appointment. 

It would be wonderful if the mechanics of our doctor’s offices would just catch up with the rest of the world.  There is no reason that every doctor’s office needs to have you fill out pages and pages of paperwork while you sit in the waiting room.  The simplest improvement would be to have downloadable forms from the office’s website but even having it sent via hard copy in advance would be an improvement.  Better yet insurance companies could add a magnetic strip to the back of the membership card that stores your basic information, current medications, previous illnesses and family history so that the office staff can just swipe it when you arrive.  If they can do this when I check into a hotel why can’t it be done for the doctor’s world? I’d also like to see a better waiting room scenario.  Perhaps when you arrive at the doctor and she is running behind they give you a beeper a la Applebee’s and then you can grab a bite or run a nearby errand instead of reading old magazines.

In the interim, I will keep typing while I wait on hold to book my annual physical. 

 

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