Our experience dealing with an unorganized physician's office and what steps can be taken to fix this ongoing issue.
Recently we went searching for a new physician. Sometimes it is necessary to make a change, but it doesn’t always work out as it is planned. After researching for days we found what looked like a great choice. It took a little over a month to get an appointment, but we hoped it would be worth the wait. Telehealth is the best way for us to get healthcare and we were excited that this place had a telehealth option. When the doctor joined the call we were thrilled until he spoke. The older gentleman started our appointment by sharing he “hates” doing video calls.
It took an entire month to get the appointment only to be told that he “hates” telehealth. Needless to say, the appointment was short because he refused to be our doctor. The medical assistant said they would call when they had found an alternative doctor for us to see. The call came and we got scheduled for an appointment three days away. We were just glad to have another appointment scheduled so quickly.
The day comes around and we get a telephone call from the nurse. The doctor is not accepting new patients and she is canceling our appointment. At this point, we were frustrated with the lack of accurate information the office provided. The nurse did nothing but make excuses and blame the scheduling team for the mistake.
What was wrong with this situation
Lack of communication
As medical practitioners, it is important to have accurate communication in-house. No patient should have to wait months for an appointment only to be canceled multiple times because of medical office errors. It is understandable that offices are busy and have an influx of patients, but that does not invalidate the need for clear patient communication.
Negative reflection on the practice
We decided not to work with the office any further because if the medical care was a reflection of their communication we knew our care would be terrible. The stress of this situation did not help our mental health. They act like it is no big deal or routine for this issue to come up, but when you are in need of medical care it is impossible to navigate this issue as a neurodiverse adult.
We did not schedule another appointment and instead have to take up the task of finding a doctor again. When you struggle with anxiety this can swiftly become overwhelming. Often neurodivergent people will not go to the doctor or even find one because of the strain that is imposed by chaotic office practices. Every patient should feel validated by their doctor’s office, but in reality, you feel as if you do not matter. You are just another box for them to check off and another paycheck for them to receive.
How to make healthcare better for the neurodivergent
The first step is to realize that patient care matters.
Too often it feels like you are on an assembly line waiting for the next doctor to take pity on you. There is no respect for the patient as a person and this feels invalidating. It is too much to jump through endless hoops just to get one appointment with your physician. It is emotionally and physically draining for the neurodivergent person.
Communicate with the patient
When days are busy it is easy to skip over explanations. However, the patient deserves more than just a “we can’t” or “you have to wait longer.” Health problems cause different levels of stress and leaving them unresolved can worsen mental health. In our case, all the scheduler had to do was check if the doctor accepts telehealth and new patients. This would have eliminated the time wasted for all parties involved.
Taking care of your mental health
It is difficult to be put into these situations that force advocacy. However, we learned that if there is nothing urgent you can take a break. We are going to continue our search for a new doctor, but this week proved too overwhelming. So we took a break from the search and will start it again soon. Your mental health is important and there is no need to make it worse by dealing with physicians’ offices not taking the time to communicate and schedule your appointment correctly.
Human error exists and we know that it is unavoidable. However, we hope that the next medical office we speak to will communicate and validate our needs. In the end, doctors are in the customer service industry and we are the customers. The customer is not always right, but the customer does deserve respect and communication.