When do we shift from patients to customers?

By on March 20, 2013

By Tyler Mercer–

With an open schedule due to lack of classes and doing nothing being my highest priority this past week, I had a chance to talk to quite a few people. That’s not to say that I don’t talk to people normally, because I’m actually a chatter box, but this past week, I had a few discussions that really got me thinking.

One of the discussions, was about the treatment we receive while we’re at a doctor appointment. Someone argued that we deserve to receive care and treatment that is adequate and is worth the money we and our insurance provider pay.

I was able to get a dentist appointment in my hometown on short notice, and I was almost late for the appointment. As I sat in the waiting room of our family dentist, I began to wonder if the dentist would get me in and out as quickly as possible. It is a fairly busy office, and I’d been lucky to have even been able to get an appointment.

I reassured myself that the appointment wouldn’t be rushed. He is a professional. Professional people do not behave that way. Wrong.

I was in and out in less than thirty minutes and was stunned by how little the dentist had actually done while I was there. It seemed to me that something was a little askew. I did not even feel like I had the right to be questioning the dentist’s actions for the simple reason that he’s a dentist.

Unfortunately, the same goes for most of us when we go to a doctor’s appointment. We generally don’t question the treatment we are getting from doctors of any sort because they are highly trained professionals in their respective fields. Why would we have the intelligence or power to question their actions?

The answer is the customer is always right.

More often than not, people forget that they are customers when they step into a doctor’s office. You are paying for a service and in return you deserve adequate treatment and care. A rushed appointment does not fall under adequate treatment.

So, when do you demand your money’s worth and when do you accept the treatment you have received? I think it will generally come down to your own judgment call. It’s never okay to leave a doctor’s office and still have worries or concerns. If the doctor appears done with his work, but you are still uneasy or have questions, you have the right to ask.

After debating with myself about how to fight for my money’s worth in a doctor’s office, a place where I obviously shouldn’t have to, I began wondering when things changed so dramatically.

Doctors used to make house calls. When that was still the custom, it seemed that doctors were very aware of the power they held. As healthcare providers, doctors are so important to us. We need them to stay healthy, get healthy and to ultimately evade death for as long as we can. It seems that the power they have held in the past has only provided a background that gives doctors entitlement that they are somehow above the rest of us.

I will not try to argue that any one position is more important than another, and I recognize how important doctors are to everyone in the world. However, when my well-being is compromised because the doctor has poor customer service, it becomes alarming.

When you are paying for a service you should not only expect adequate treatment and service, but you should demand it. We work hard for our money and so should everyone else.

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