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

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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.

17 Comments

Oh the TV, I HATE the TV. I don't get the point, most of the morning and afternoon shows are just celebrity gossip, soaps or inane chit chat, and I often I find the noise and content offensive. I would rather they find a soothing nature DVD or two (that would actually be a good idea in the nursing home as well).
The best waiting room I can remember was my nephew's orthodontist; clean, comfortable chairs, nice art and an amazing fish tank.
Glad to learn I'm not the only one who finds the nonsense and low class shows offensive. A few times I did bring ear plugs, but they didn't block out much noise.

Interesting that you mention a fish task. There's one in the ER of our preferred hospital. It's so soothing. The trauma rooms also have artwork, similar to Wyland's art with stunning murals of ocean life.

And the halls throughout ground and first floors are filled with beautiful artworks, all done by amateur artists.
Our GP/geriatric drs office has a "medical news" channel, with advice on health and cooking tips. It's OK. My gyno shows old movies ( if I see The Blind Side one more time I will scream!) and moms skin Dr shows ads for things they sell. Not really sure I like any of these options! The eye dr shows home improvement channel, with no volume! We normally read magizines or our kindles!
Magazines on your Kindle, lucky you! Of course the paper kind have mostly disappeared from waiting rooms, I don't know if this is a sanitation thing or if they are just too cheap to buy them. My last mammogram apt had magazines that were ten years old, but hey, they were new to me ;)
When the wait has been interminably long I really can't sit quietly any more but have to get up and wander around, reading all the health pamphlets or taking a bathroom break or ANYTHING to keep from screaming at the staff. (Honestly, if the doc is running an hour or more behind just tell me and I will come back later). Maybe they should provide a treadmill or an exercise bike, a double benefit to keep us fit and work off that nervous energy too.
You might like my doctor. He makes house calls and calls patients the day after their visit to see how you're doing.

He is an OLD TIME DOCTOR. Like Dr. Welby. Homey office. He has patients who drive from out of state to see him. I'm not kidding. He has NO PAs! He works almost every day and has for many years. His office is decorated with antique doctor instruments. It's cool, imo.

He's been featured on tv in Raleigh, NC several times. We can't post links, but, I'm going to PM you the link for his tv feature. I think you'll get a kick out of it.
Sunnygirl, thanks for the link. He is quite the doctor, incredible in his achievement of practicing medicine in his own way.

I didn't know doctors like him still existed!

I wonder if I could find a clone of him here in Michigan?? Such a contrast from some of the impersonal medical offices I've seen here.
Couldn't agree more! Most clinics need an interior decorator stat! Ironically the VA office where I take my friend is tuned all day to HGTV, I keep hoping the inspiration will rub off on the facility.

Another pet peeve I have with many medical offices is how non-private they are, they expect me to blurt out my social, phone number, or "why do you need to be seen" in front of a full waiting room. The conversation always closes with an update to the HIPPA privacy policy, and I'm always like your kidding right?!

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.
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. 


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.

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