April 13, 2023

Think About Google Reviews When You Ask Me to Fill Out Forms

Checking in for my doctor appointment is bad for my health.
Modern Problems
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I love the increased focus on customer satisfaction in our economy. I love that companies send out surveys after an encounter with a customer. I love that customer service representatives are measured by the quality of service they provide using these methodologies. I love that all kinds of businesses care about these types of surveys and reviews on Google and Yelp. I like the closed-loop conversation of these business dynamics, and I love having access to restaurateurs, physical therapists, yoga studios, Southwest Airlines, Amazon, and more using these tools.

It seems that, even if not perfectly responsive, businesses are MORE responsive than ever in our transparent review economy. Rah!

However, in my view there’s one sector that is doing these processes but not considering a key element of “customer” satisfaction: any type of medical business. All of these companies, propelled even further by COVID, are using text and email alerts, offering online check-in, and conducting in-depth feedback processes aimed at being better and getting great online reviews.

However, as far as I can tell, one area has burgeoned to gargantuan proportions of inconvenience without any seeming check or balance: online check-ins for health appointments.

Have you noticed this? Sure, we were happy when most offices started abandoning paper check-in flows comprised of double-sided pages and six-point font. Yes. Progress! But at least with the paper, there was SOME physical manifestation of how much these offices were asking of their clients, patients, and customers. Now, with online flows, the asks are wholly unchecked, and I think they’ve run amok.

I have had a bee in my bonnet for quite some time about this. I find that the progress of Electronic Medical Records has been brisk, but the seeming USE of the availability of this data by practitioners has been nonexistent. In sharing a rant today with my EA on this topic, she mentioned that her three-year-old’s dentist asks her for a medical history every time she visits the office. She knows me well enough to know that sometimes I’m elated if she joins me on the below-the-line soapbox, and she made it happen.

“Here’s the deal,” she said as if to the dental receptionist. “He was born three years ago. And now he’s here. For a teeth cleaning.” I am laughing out loud as I type that.

Look, I understand that practitioners need information. I understand there are changes in medical situations occasionally. Of course. I’m just asking that medical offices (including you PT’s, massage therapists, facialists, gyms) be rational about what they’re asking and about what they already have in their databases. As a lawyer, I also understand that everyone who does anything to or with us needs us to sign away all rights to get to safely exist on the planet. Fine. You can give us the mouse print doc on an iPad and we can be playing Spelling Bee on our phone and scan and sign that almost-always-useless (to all of us) waiver.

Today broke me.

I am doing a PT appointment in the office of my orthopedic surgeon after receiving a detailed diagnosis from the aforementioned surgeon last week. I checked in for THAT appointment…at the same office…where they have computers…that store all of that information. For THIS appointment, I had to answer some questions about how my broken tibia has been affecting my life. Here’s one:

The true answer is that I can perform these activities, and it is largely pain-free, but the aforementioned surgeon told me not to do anything that requires any degree of difficulty. That is not one of the options. And then I looked at my “progress” situation. I was already weary of these questions, and this was just eleven of eight-nine. And those 89 questions were wrapped up as only task one of three!

Heavens. If I’d had to click that “next” button with my left leg, I would have been in deep tibial pain before the end of that survey.

Sure. These are ridiculous dopey issues.

Perhaps all this amounts to is a plea for someone to create a company to which I can give my one page of critical medical (updated) information. Then, that company’s product would fill these inane things out using AI, no one would ever read the data, and all would be frictionless in the world of personal and medical services.

I don’t know, but someone has to at least start protesting. I remember in my 30’s having a very similar feeling about furniture company delivery times. In the before times I worked in an office far from home for a bunch of hours a day. Remote work wasn’t a thing. Pottery Barn wanted to deliver a table to me from 1pm to 6pm on a Wednesday. Huh? Now with cell phones, better logistics tech, and Task Rabbit, this is better. But I’m sure it’s still hard for many of you.

Listen up Universe. You care what we think. You send us a zillion surveys supporting this thesis. Our satisfaction includes this step of getting the product or the service actually delivered. I’d love for you sanely to share the responsibility for making that work.

Sue Heilbronner

Sue Heilbronner is an executive coach, Conscious Leadership facilitator, and catalyst for change.

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