I know. I’m not a doctor. But I am a business owner. I deal with customers every day. And since I am both a freelance writer and the founder of a K-12 Language Arts program, I deal with all sorts of people, in all sorts of moods, of all sorts of ages on a regular basis. And this is what I know for sure: If you don’t let your customers know that you truly and genuinely care about their happiness and well-being, they will and should go right out the door to a person who does.
My Diabetes Practice would have:
- An office that is bright and a bit welcoming.
- A designated greeter at the desk. One person who is assigned to be pleasant that day. They don’t all need to jump up to greet the patients, but one of the people needs to at least make eye contact in a pleasant way.
- The understanding that every person who walks through that door has at least some questions in common. As their doctor, it should be my privilege to provide material, references, or a starting point for that information.
- A website with links and info and everything in one place from sources I know are reliable. This way my patients know they are getting good information from sources I trust, even if they are not getting it directly from me.
When you walked into my office you would find:
- some diabetes magazines.
- some magazines that appeal to who my patients are in addition to their diabetes.
Since I am the doctor and I am busy seeing lots of people, I don’t have time to hold each hand until each person is comfortable. I can tell my patients I’ve gotten the website together for them and that there are resources available in my office as well. And then I would make it part of the process for my patient to be offered:
- a reading list of books like “What do I Eat Now?,” “Your First Year with Diabetes”
- an information sheet with everything spelled out so that I only have to circle what I want you to do
- instructions on what to do to submit your glucose log and whether or not to expect any sort of routine follow-up – that way you won’t call to take up my staff’s time for no good reason
- A nutritionist on staff who can tell you how to adjust your diet in general terms in times of illness or medication.
In short, I would create a welcoming environment with the information I know damned well you’re going to need. I’m not going to teach each patient the entire ins and outs that they should get from a diabetes education class, but I’m not going to act like I’ve never been asked any of these questions before or have no idea what it is you’re seeking!
-Mia (Climbing off my soapbox)
(So why is this not obvious to specialists? I have a few ideas, but none of them is going to get anything to change, so I’m just going to spell out what my practice would be like. And I can tell you for sure, it wouldn’t take 60-minute office visits or hours of work on the part of the doctor. All it would take is a bit of forethought and some actual empathy.)