GardenArtist Posted September 20, 2017

Medical offices, the good, bad and the ugly. What's your experience?


This subject has been on my mind since returning from the first visit to a new internist's practice. This doctor has been highly recommended by others of our treating doctors, by nurses at our regular hospital, and even by home care workers. Perhaps I expected too much based on the laudable recommendations.

I was surprised by the office layout, very perfunctory, impersonal, contemporary steel styling, hardwood floors which I think were exotic woods (based on a description by a friend who knows these things), and no decorations in the treating rooms. Bare essentials only, like a house someone had just moved into but hadn't yet unpacked.

The reception area had the apparently obligatory tv tuned to some revolting program with a woman discussing men stripping down for some kind of contest or whatever (I blocked out as much as I could but had forgotten to bring my ear protectors). The office was glassed in, the staff kept the windows closed and didn't have to listen to the garbage on tv.

The office itself was bare as well. (This is an established practice, not a new one with financial assets yet to be established).

In the1/2 hour it took to fill out the new forms (they were online but Norton advised the site was questionable, so I opted not to download the forms), there were at least 5 people who come for appointments and left, during that short time.

When my father became cold and I told the NP, then the front office staff that I was going out to my car to get a blanket for him, they just nodded. And sat there. Of the 3 to whom I said this, not one of them offered to get a blanket for him.

This surprised me. It wouldn't have happened at our cardiologist's office, or some of our other doctors, whose staff react quickly to accommodate an older patient.

Thinking it over, I realized that the only ones in "uniform" were the one NP we saw; the doctor was dressed nicely but no lab coat; the office staff were VERY casually dressed, as if they might be just working around the house. In fact I wasn't even sure they were staff b/c most of them had long stringy hair and such casual clothing.

I wouldn't have put all this together if I hadn't felt that we were being added to a recycling list of patients, advised that we'd have to come back more than a few times to address all the issues, even though this was a longer "new" appointment.

All this started a memory of some of the best medical offices I've seen. One is a podiatrist's office with multiple paintings, several beautiful nature ones done by one of the partner's mothers. The front office is in soothing colors, nothing stark, but rather quite welcoming. The staff is probably in their 40's or 50's, all very professional, as are all the nurses and support staff.

Another was an OB-GYN office done in pastels, and a very soothing atmosphere.

Although this doctor yesterday was highly recommended, I felt that his reputation was disjunctive with the stark setting of the office, and began to lose a bit of confidence in that practice. Perhaps this isn't fair, but I just didn't feel comfortable there.

Does anyone else experience this? Comparing the office environment and staff support and drawing conclusions based on the presence or lack of it?

I don't want to be prejudiced, but I just had the feeling we were just another cog on a rapidly spinning wheel.

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GardenArtist Sep 24, 2017
Nature, interesting observation. Is a practicing manager (physician?) really that involved with the demeanor (including tv on constantly) of the office? If so, that tells a lot about the managing partner.

nature73 Sep 24, 2017
The demeanor & professionalism of the office staff is a reflection of the MD &/or practice manager's management style.

freqflyer Sep 24, 2017
Our local 24-hour animal hospital is more environmentally comfortable then some human doctor offices I have been in :P

One solo surgeon I was using for years had a very nice cozy little office, it felt sooo comfortable. Then she moved into a larger practice thus into a much larger quarters, gone was that comfortable feeling. If she wasn't so user-friendly and highly knowledgeable [would think outside of the box, a bit of rebel] I would have had second thoughts.... she looked like Kirstie Alle, along with the personality of the character she played on Cheers, you always went home with feeling good about yourself :)

Give me a waiting room and exam room that has a window. I need to see daylight, sunshine or watching it snow. Good distraction until the doctor is ready to see me :)

Those waiting room TV's, I have noticed back when I was taking my parents to all of their many, and I do mean many, doctor appointments that more than half had the TV's off. If the TV is on, give me informative WebMD stuff, not talk show chatter.

GardenArtist Sep 23, 2017
Daughterof1930, I think that neurologist would probably not be very good at working with older people! Although with due respect, if he/she weren't in a building for his office only, he might not have had any input in designing it.

I learned some years ago that some medical practices were becoming LLCs, which is a corporate construct which sells memberships to individuals who share in the profits. I don't recall how or what input the members might have had in asset management, such as design and management of a building, but if they're young things still wet behind the ears they probably would have no idea that gravel is the most ridiculous substance for a parking lot.

Was this in a cold weather state? If so, how in the world could snow be cleared from a gravel lot?

Staff in casual clothes is something I haven't seen much of; I hope I don't have to get used to it. I don't know who they are- this week I mistook a staff member for a patient.

I saw more preoccupation with smart phones at the last rehab facility. Some of them made no effort to disguise the fact that they were playing with the phones.

I wonder if that improves their concentration; I'd hate to think what could happen if it has the opposite effect.

Daughterof1930 Sep 23, 2017
GA, your description perfectly portrays the neurologist office I recently took my dad to, stark, cold, unfriendly in every way. The majority of the patients were elderly yet the place was designed with a long uphill ramp inside to get to the reception and waiting room, just great for the rollator! And the parking lot was gravel, also a rollator nightmare. Sadly, I fear this is becoming the new normal. Staff dressed like they were at home and preoccupied by cell phones. Ugh!

cwillie Sep 23, 2017
Thanks for that story Hugemom, ROFL!!🤣🤣

Hugemom Sep 23, 2017
Ok, about the televisions in public places. I had my car serviced earlier this year and decided to wait for it in their waiting room. It's a nice room, in the midst of all the new cars. It has a professional coffee service machine and a VERY large television. I was the only woman there amidst 6 older men. One of the mid-day talk shows was on and they were discussing vaginal dryness and painful sex amongst post-menopausal women. I was waiting for one of the men to turn to me and ask if that were true. There was a lot of throat clearing and magazine page rustling. I just sat there, mortified. One of the men was napping while holding the remote. Shades of my house! As for cold and unfriendly office staff and ultra-modern, stark offices, I am afraid that is the norm.

Sunnygirl1 Sep 23, 2017
I actually have several doctors and most of them are really good. One of my primaries, who I described above is like Dr. Welby. He is down the street from my office, so, if I need him, I just walk over. Whenever, I call and it's not often, the staff will get me in. He will see you, if you need him. No run around, they go and talk to him and come back and say, come on over.

I also see UNC Endocrine and they are awesome too. They strive for great patient care and are almost too friendly. Offering me bottled water, reading material, can they help me with anything, etc. I also get surveys about my experience and begging me to let them know how they can do better. I'm not kidding. I consider myself lucky. I am on the patient portal with them and it's convenient for emailing with the Dr and staff.

Shane1124 Sep 23, 2017
It's nice to have a doctor's office that is nicely decorated and spacious, but that doesn't necessarily equate to good providers.
I've been to older offices too. Some of the best doctors work out of the less asthetically pleasing offices.

My issue is the support staff. Especially when they answer a call, put that customer on hold, then take their sweet natured time taking care of Patient 1 (slowly) while Patient 2 is holding forever. Unfortunately gardenartist, no office I have been to provides blankets for patient use.

My pet peeve is no one wears ID's these days and you can't identify who the provider is nor their qualifications.

Another pet peeve is rarely is there a RN on staff. You have Medical Assistants checking blood pressures with automatic cuffs - not taking into consideration the size of the cuff used must be different for smaller and larger arms. I do not trust automatic BP cuff results in a doctor's office. My provider will use an old fashion cuff & stethoscope to validate what the automatic cuff reading was, and fortunately I see many more physicians themselves taking blood pressures for accuracy because they want to verify the reading itself.

I go to many doctor offices & the lack of competency and compassion of the staff is unbelievable. But there are many good ones too.  Thank goodness they all employ nighttime cleaning services! 

Another pet peeve is where the patient bathroom is in the waiting room. I don't like when the BR is not off in its own corner where you get alittle privacy. I feel bad for the patients that have to use the BR and it's located right near the main waiting room so when they come out if can be embarrassing for them if they had to go #2. 

GardenArtist Sep 21, 2017
Berukno, good observation and points about the lack of privacy.

I've also seen that they'll require acknowledgment of their privacy policies but have to be asked to provide them. If I'm in a bad mood, I just cross out the acknowledgement and give it back to them, saying sweetly that I never received the policy.

But the lack of confidentiality in the front office is disconcerting.

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