Thursday, January 17, 2013

What a Bunch of ”Phoneys”

This topic has no relation whatsoever to Scottish folk music. However, I do have an uncanny ability to incorporate Scottish folk music (or sometimes just Scotland, sans music) into any conversation, no matter what it was originally about, so don't be surprised if that happens to this post as well.

There are a lot of things about my job that bug me--dealing with insurance companies and dealing with pharmacies are two of the ones that stand out--but more and more, I find myself being annoyed by cell phones. And no, it's probably not what you're thinking. Yes, people talking loudly on their phones in my waiting room, as well as people whose cell phones ring (and they then answer them!) when they are in the exam room with me, both irritate me. But that's more of an etiquette thing. No, what REALLY aggravates me are a) people who have a cell with a long-distance phone number, b) people who don't listen to their messages and instead simply call the phone number that shows up as a missed call, and c) people who don't have a personalized voice mail message, and instead just have a generic female voice saying the phone number.

In order to understand A and B, you should know that in my office, we only have one line that can call long-distance, and that happens to be a shared voice/fax line. We have several other lines, but they are only local lines. So, for the (unfortunately more and more common) scenario in which someone calls us and we have to call them back at a long-distance number, usually I have my staff return the call using MY cell phone, which like practically every other cell phone on the planet has free long-distance. So, that's a bit of an inconvenience. What makes it even worse is if they don't answer, despite the fact that I specifically have my office staff say ”please don't call back on the number that shows up on your caller ID; instead call the office number which is...”, probably half to two-thirds of the time they DON'T EVEN LISTEN TO THE MESSAGE and therefore call my cell. It then takes another call (or more) to finally make contact with the patient. It's a lot of wasted time.

The problem with C is that, in a busy practice, I can't personally talk to every patient who calls, and certainly not at the moment they call. So, either I will call patients back, or my receptionist will call them back with my response to their question or problem. I don't know about other people, but I don't like to leave private information about someone's health in a voice mail in the first place, and especially if I'm not sure it's really that person's voice mail. How do I know my receptionist didn't accidentally transpose two digits in the phone number or something? A lot of my phone messages in that situation are kind of cryptic, and usually end with ”if this isn't John Smith, I'd appreciate if you could call back and let me know I've got the wrong number.”

Anyway, end of diatribe. Sorry that was so boring. To take your mind off it, here's Jim Malcolm. See what I did there?

1 comment:

  1. I did this whole post from my phone (which is fitting, I suppose), and the quotation marks look strange. I'll have to get to an actual computer with a real keyboard to fix it. Sorry!


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