Point of purchase miscommunication.


Recently, my wife and I took our daughter to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physicians group. After several instances of ear infections, we followed the advice of our family pediatrician to see a specialist about the possibility of tubes for my daughter’s ears. The physician group we were referred to has an excellent reputation and all of the physicians have very impressive credentials. Initially, we were pleased with the referral. And then we went for our first office visit.

The waiting area of the office was pretty much at capacity when we arrived. We found one of the few remaining chairs and settled in to be seen. One of the first things I noticed was an 8.5 X 11 piece of paper taped to the wall near the check in area. It sternly warned in bold letters ANYONE ARRIVING FOR AN APPOINTMENT 15 MINUTES AFTER THE SCHEDULED TIME WILL NEED TO RESCHEDULE. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, as we were 15 minutes early and I appreciate people who try to keep things on track.

To keep a long story short, it was an hour and 15 minutes before we were called back to the physician’s office. At this point, I had to leave to return to work. It took an additional 30 minutes for the physician to come back and see my wife and daughter. The whole ordeal took over two hours. That’s a long time to keep anyone, much less a 9-month old content. And the whole time, all we could think about was the sternly worded sign at the front of the office. For all intensive purposes it now screamed at me OUR TIME IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOURS! Our pediatrician’s office also has a sign that’s posted at the front of the waiting area. It says: If You’ve Been Waiting for more than 20 minutes, please notify the receptionist.

I understand that fluctuating wait times are inevitable in healthcare. I also understand that how you communicate to a healthcare consumer in your office is crucial to the experience.

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