Supporting patients requires meeting them on their terms and understanding that not everyone reacts to time and money issues in the same way.
We’re starting 2017 off right with a poignant anecdote from Dr. Brady on her experience as a patient and how this has benefited her own treatment practices. She discusses the reality that time and money can have powerful effects on our behavior.
Time, Money, and the Patient Perspective
Recently I had the opportunity to sit on the other side of a health care decision and learn again a lesson about how I support my patients in managing the real life pieces of moving forward with care.
I was at the ophthalmologists office for a “recall” appointment to continue to follow a problem I dealt with following a severe corneal abrasion injury. I knew before I even got out of my car for the appointment that the surgery I was hoping wouldn’t have to be done would be the doctor’s recommendation. I was aware of the symptoms. He and I had covered these bases before and I knew what my options were and all the risks and benefits.
So when he pushed his chair back and said, “I think it’s time to schedule the surgery,” I wasn’t the least bit surprised. He was concerned and accommodating, “I know how inconvenient it will be to have another acute incident and be out of work for a few days, so let’s get you in on a day that works around your patient schedule.” He called in his assistant and instructed her to let the scheduling nurse know he had said to make it work wherever on his schedule it worked for me.
I walked over and sat with the surgical coordinator. I knew I had to have this done, the discomfort from the last acute attack was still vivid in my mind, and yet I pulled out my iPhone and began to pour over my calendar. I was truly ready and committed to having this done, but how to fit it in to my busy life became the next obstacle. Finally, after vexing over what days my husband Kelly could drive me, and which ones meant the least movement of my patient schedule, and gave me the most days for recovery without missing work, I told her a date. She worked diligently to fit me in on my requested date.
As she was filling out my appointment card, I stopped her, asking, “Do you know what my portion of the surgery will be?” She looked at me for a moment before responding that she would have someone call me with that information. Not knowing what to expect financially was a challenge, so much so that I was contemplating canceling until I had all the information. Having the ability to pay my portion was not the issue. Feeling comfortable with it and having the opportunity to plan and strategize how to best pay my part is important to me. Being in control and not being worried about financial surprises is very important to me.
My learning in all of this was that I am just like my patients. It isn’t realistic to expect everyone to manage time and money issues on the spot during a treatment conference. I want to know that as a team we are supporting our patients in managing their own comfort around time and money.
What have you learned from your experiences on the patient side of health care? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!