Sure, we’re veterinarians so we’re biased. Nevertheless, it’s true that plenty of you will concur that our clients are often better served by our kind than by our physician cousins.
I got to thinking about this after writing my last column detailing my many misadventures related to a Rottweiler-induced broken nose. Fielding the glut of collegially sympathetic comments I received in its aftermath, I realized our clients have lots to be grateful for compared to their encounters with our physician counterparts.
1) Cost Intelligence Concerns
Let’s be honest: Physicians often have no idea how much their services cost.
Unless they’re working in a fee-for-service environment (my nose-mending plastic surgeon, dentist and dermatologist are three exceptions), they’re typically clueless as to the price of their services, the diagnostics they recommend and the drugs they prescribe.
Even after Massachusetts installed a law requiring physicians and hospitals to disclose their fees, receiving even a rough estimate from a provider or hospital in advance of a procedure, for example, is essentially impossible.
In fact, a recent NPR report revealed that securing an estimate for something as standard as an uncomplicated vaginal delivery was almost impossible in Boston.
2) Wait Time Troubles
I don’t know about you, but whenever I have to see my GP, gynecologist, ophthalmologist or orthopod, I’d go crazy without a knitting project or an absorbing book (or both). Two hours is not an unusual experience, especially with the latter two providers.
Us? We’re usually running right on schedule. Indeed, it’s unusual for our clients to wait longer than 15 minutes for their visit. And if we’re running late, at least we have the courtesy to call our clients to let them know so they can reschedule if necessary.
3) In-house Inconveniences
What’s worse than interminable wait times?
Having to obtain additional tests at other locations.
Which means additional delays and time away from work. X-rays, routine pregnancy-related ultrasounds, blood work and other simple diagnostics are but a few examples.
And when time means money lost and quality of life squandered, these inconveniences represent no mere irritations.
4) Billing Bothers
It’s not just a simple nuisance; dealing with medical bills often means navigating a time-sucking morass of mind-numbing hold times and abysmal Musack.
Moreover, invoice mistakes are commonplace. And because most patients never bother to review their various scores of invoices, their deductibles and our insurance premiums are inevitably (and expensively!) influenced.
5) Specialty Service Exasperation
Want a reasonably speedy appointment to see a specialist? Good luck with that.
Month-long delays or more are commonplace in many human medical fields. I once waited two months to see an oncologist for a simple biopsy.
And speaking of biopsies, have you ever waited less than a few days for a pathology result? A day for a radiology report? A couple of hours for stat blood work? For the love of God, my annual pap test takes almost a month to come back. And that aforementioned biopsy? Three weeks for what might have been a nasty cancer.
6) Follow-Up Frustrations
Just try receiving a timely response from your physician after calling to seek legitimately significant, time-sensitive clarification on a particularly important issue.
Two days is not an uncommon interval to expect a callback. (Specialists are masters of this brand of delay.)
7) Rx Refill Infuriation
Ever arrived at the pharmacy for your monthly drugs only to be told you require a refill authorization? Good luck getting your physician’s on-the-spot approval.
Sure, it’s often the pharmacy’s fault for not informing you in advance that you’re running low on refills, but there’s no excuse for waiting more than a day for an authorization.
Now, I’m not saying we’re better than physicians in all ways. After all, our standards of care are typically far lower than our physicians’ and I contend that our legal system lacks crucial client protections—an issue most of you may feel benefits you but one for which I believe we enjoy unfair advantages.
But there’s little doubt we’re way better than their ilk in at least these seven instances.
Can you think of any more? I’m all ears.