Today I had the pleasure of spending close to 15 minutes on the telephone trying to book a doctors appointment as well as a nurses appointment. The reason it took so long was that I ideally wanted them to be next to each other to save me having to make two trips to the surgery. As I was out and about when I called I asked if they could send me a confirmation sms or email (I have the most dreadful memory if I do not write things down) – the answer was no. Hmmmm – really not ideal.
How hard would it be for my doctors surgery to have an sms or email system tool? I know that with many busy surgeries patients not turning up for appointments is a real problem and surely sending them a reminder is a great idea? My surgery used to have an sms reminder system which I thought was great (see above about my memory) but one day they just stopped this system. I suspect the reason being the cost of sending sms – but how expensive is it to send a reminder email?
In fact while we are at it – how about a reminder that my prescription is about to run out? That would be soooooo helpful! I have lost count of the number of times I have had to book emergency appointments because I have realised that I have run out of pills. I am a youngish, intelligent person – how much harder it must be for an elderly patient with even worse memory problems or indeed early dementia.
There are a few pharmacies that now have this sort of a prescription reminder service (e.g. Boots) – but that presumes that you always use the same pharmacy or that your local pharmacy offers this service (mine does not). I think this is a service that the surgery could offer and which would be really beneficial to all patients. It is also a service that need not cost much and could be automated so would not take up precious time. Given the health problems related to not taking medication problem and the high rates of non-compliance I really believe that doctors surgeries need to do more to help patients remain compliant to their medication schemes.
From a customer service point of view another great service would be to have an online booking tool – this would also mean that patients could book appointments out of hours and would not need to wait until surgery opening hours to book an appointment over the phone.
However what I do not expect my doctor to do is contact me personally via email. Whilst perhaps for some patients this would be a great service I have to admit that I do not want to discuss my ailments via email nor do I expect my doctor to take time out of his extremely busy schedule to email me. I just expect him to make booking the actual appointment easier, and remind me of it, so that I can discuss my aches and pains with him face to face.
Maybe one day my doctor’s surgery will join the 21st Century and set up some e-services to make life a bit easier for patients – until then I will no doubt continue to forget to make appointments!