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Yelp and the Health Care User Experience and Waiting at the Dermatologist

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Not enough has been written about the health care “user experience.” More is about to come.

Yesterday I went to the dermatologist for a routine annual screening. When I called to make the appointment, I said I didn’t want to wait, and I’d be glad to be the first appointment in the morning. They literally didn’t have an early apppointment for six months, but they offered me the first appointment after lunch, only a two-month wait. I accepted.

I waited 55 minutes in the outer office (what if I didn’t have a wireless EVDO card?) before being called in to spend five minutes with a Physician Assistant (otherwise known as a physician extender) who glanced quickly over my body and told me I was fine.

But I wasn’t fine; I was furious. In a minor way, of course, because I know it’s not the same as being kept waiting in the emergency room for five hours when you are having a strokee, which also happens every day. But still, I would have liked to wait a bit less, and/or spend a bit more time with the doctor, especially because I have lived in Arizona long enough to have skin cancer.

In the past, I would have been helpless. But now I will just turn around and write a review on Yelp. The Phoenix marketing person for Yelp spoke at Gangplank Academy today, and I just happened to be there. She reminded me that doctors are now being rated by Yelp, so I took the liberty to write up my experience.

In her talk, she said health care providers are trying to sue Yelp users for writing negative reviews. This makes me ROFL. Shouldn’t it be we, the customers, suing the providers for the lousy service? In no other industry is the “customer experience” so ill-considered as in health care (with the exception of plastic surgeons and medspas).

But fellow customers, our time is coming. Can you say “effectiveness studies”? “Pay for performance”?


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EmpowHER Guest

Several years ago, realizing that new doctors needed training in bedside manner, new courses were added to medical school curricula. I found it encouraging that not all new classes were in practice accounting (I had friends in med school bragging about this).

I think that, these days, physicians are up against a brick wall trying to manage a practice, the cost of malpractice insurance, dealing with burgeoning hospital bureaucracies and a growing elderly, baby-boomer patient population. Judging by the number of new hospitals being constructed in my area alone, healthcare is a continually thriving industry - because we're an unwell population.

That more licensed nurse practitioners are taking over routine procedures, like physicals, minor emergencies and vaccinations, for example, freeing up the M.D.s for more serious or specialized concerns and surgical procedures, is also encouraging. I love my NP and appreciate that I can get in and out of the clinic very quickly for routine screenings and minor emergencies.

All the same, I do agree that the patient experience leaves much to be desired in far too many healthcare facilities, based on the number of horror stories reported - and I don't mean to Yelp. As patients, we have every right to expect - and demand - good "user experience." I would start by complaining to the facility.

May 6, 2009 - 7:47pm
EmpowHER Guest

Yelp reviews cannot be trusted, and neither can Jeremy Stoppelman. Search for Yelp on Google News to see story after story recently detailing the facts in California, Chicago and New York. Check the comments sections in these articles for even more stories of reputations of people and small businesses damaged by misinformation spread by Jeremy Stoppleman and Yelp. Stoppelman gallingly claims to be doing a favor for small businesses while he tries to squeeze personal profits out of a machine that damages them. Most recently he can be found on his blog crying that his poor unprofitable 31 million dollar venture capital company (fueled by anonymous baseless attacks on small companies) is being criticized by "anonymous" small business owners. Real people who work hard to make their businesses survive, in spite of damage done by Yelp in it’s quest for massive profit.

March 13, 2009 - 11:10am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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