My name is Lori Boyer and I manage the blog here at Solutionreach. One of my favorite posts each month is the one that comes from our "We are patients too" series. In it, Solutionreach employees share some of the experiences...both good and bad...they have had in the healthcare world.
So, even though you usually hear all about best practices and industry trends from me, I’d like to take the chance today to share a few of my own personal experiences. I know that your job is often thankless and demanding. We patients can be annoying and downright difficult to work with. I can’t even imagine how hard it is to work with people who are sick or in pain or afraid all day, every day. You are amazing! Let me share a little bit about some awesome practices that went just beyond what was expected..and ended up making a big difference in my life.
We had the absolute privilege of being dental patients of the late Dr. Zach Haws at Swan Falls Family Dentistry during the height of the recession. It was a hard time for our little family. I was pregnant and my husband had just lost his job. My oldest son needed braces, so we scraped together enough money and took him to see Dr. Haws. After going through the full process, I sat down with the financial person and braced myself (ha! Pun intended!) for the bill.
I happened to catch a glimpse of the regular print out with a charge of around $3000 for what we needed. Dr. Haws had crossed that out and handwritten at the bottom “$500 only.” They didn’t say anything, just let me know it would be $500 and I could do it in payments if I needed. I was moved beyond words.
The next year (after my husband had gotten a new job), I was sitting in the waiting room when I saw a rough looking older man finish his visit. He looked like he hadn’t showered in weeks. As the man was using the restroom, I heard Dr. Haws say to his financial person, “No charge for this man.”
A couple of years later, Dr. Haws was killed in an accident. I cried that day. That is the kind of relationship that is possible between a patient and their provider. One where patients literally mourn their loss. Today, his sweet wife (also a dentist) carries on his practice.
Family Practice Personalization
One of my favorite doctors of all time was Dr. Mark Johnson of Mountain View Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. He was the doctor for my whole family, including my children. Between well child visits and the inevitable bugs little ones pick up, having kids means being in the doctor’s office a lot. It’s a good thing we liked it there so much! Dr. Johnson and his whole staff were like family to us. Every time we were in the office, they acted like they were seeing old friends. They treated my little children like they were the cutest, smartest, best kids in the world.
Dr. Johnson always took as long as he felt was necessary during a visit. I don’t ever remember feeling rushed. When he wasn’t sure about something, he would contact other physicians he knew to get their thoughts and opinions. A couple of times we had kids sick enough to be hospitalized. Dr. Johnson was always so loving and concerned and helpful. Seeing his face made everything seem better.
When we moved out of state, one of our biggest concerns was leaving this doctor’s office. In fact, the very night we moved, one of my kids came down with a fever and ear pain. Having experienced this multiple times, I knew it was an ear infection. Being in a strange place with no doctor and not wanting to go to the ER, I called Dr. Johnson’s office. He prescribed us the medicine we needed from a completely different state. I wish every patient could have the type of care and concern that we felt from Dr. Johnson and his staff.
Eye Care Comfort
A couple of years ago, I started to feel like one of my eyes was experiencing a little eye strain. I figured I’d spent too much time looking at a computer screen so I put in a few eye drops and ignored it. As the weekend hit, however, I woke up to find that not only was my eye in incredible pain, but I couldn’t see out of it. After seeing an urgent care physician, I was told that I would need to wait and be seen by an ophthalmologist the following week.
Dr. Smalley at Excel Eye Center got me in right away. At this point, my pain was excruciating. But much worse than the pain, I was terrified. I felt very worried that I may never be able to see out of that eye again.Dr. Smalley was incredible. For the next two weeks, I was in the office nearly every day. I used a huge regiment of eye drops and pills. Throughout this time, I did not regain my vision but Dr. Smalley made me feel so well-cared for.
He had a way of talking to me that was so soothing and reassuring. Even my husband (who took me to each appointment since I was having a hard time seeing) said to me one day, “No matter what Dr. Smalley says, it makes me feel good. He could say, ‘You are dying’ and I would nod gratefully and thank him.” He took all the time I needed to answer questions and was available to me whenever I needed him. In addition, his staff was amazing. They learned my name and kept up with my situation. When I would come in, they would have all of my sign-in stuff ready and call me by name. I even had an assistant or two pop their heads into my exam room to tell me they were happy to see me.
Eventually, Dr. Smalley was able to work his magic. The day I woke up to realize I could see out of my eye will forever remain one of the best days of my life. I am so grateful to him and his staff for everything they did for me. During a very difficult time, they were a bright spot in my life.
When things get crazy, please remember: you are amazing. You really do touch lives. What you do makes an incredible difference. It is a privilege to work with so many of you each day. So thank you. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for putting up with us!
P.S. If you're anything like these practices, I know you're always working on your patient relationships. If you need to know more about how to integrate tech while keeping a personal feel, read this guide, "38 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Patient Engagement System."