My own words inspired me to take action on the periodontist issue I wrote so unglowingly about last week. The periodontist is history.
No, I didn’t shoot him.
I received another call from his office with another offer of a next-day appointment to replace the one they unilaterally cancelled a couple of months ago. Recall that their revenue maximization program typically had been masked by the ostensibly altruistic intent of serving me by slotting me into a cancelled appointment. Unfortunately, they were never able to give me more than a day’s notice and I never found it convenient to adapt my schedule to accommodate them. This time, I told the receptionist that it would not work on short notice, so we should just skip this appointment and schedule one for September.
It was at that point that she told me that hygienist K would be retiring in the interim, and she could schedule me with E, who was “the most like K.” My loyalty to this dentist’s office was not to the dentist–it was to K. After all, she did most of the work. At each appointment, she worked for 55 minutes before the periodontist stopped by for his cursory, fifteen second assessment. If K hadn’t been there, I would have left long ago. If she now would be leaving, there was essentially nothing left for me there after 18 years.
So, I told the receptionist that with K leaving, everything changed. I told her that her boss was growing increasingly arrogant, and if I was going to be delving into the unknown by changing to a new hygienist, I might as well consider other alternatives. So, I told her, “I’ll call you if I change my mind.” I doubt that I will.
The sad thing is that so many medical practitioners act as if they’re doing us favors when they are clearly conducting self-interested practices. I generally blame the training of office staffs in this current, non-consumer driven climate more than the mindset of the doctors and dentists themselves. (Office staffs treat us like we’re nothing more than automated conveyers that bring insurance cards to them—that is our function and we must play by their rules.) In this case, the greedy periodontist is complicit.
I am uninsured for dental work and I pay full retail. Thus, my consumer dollars actually mean something. Accordingly, I will exercise my power of choice.
This is a luxury that not many have in our current health care morass, which leads to that screwed-up philosophy that government, employers, and insurance companies are paying the bills, so patients are only incidental to the picture. Thus, there is no effort to try to please us, as any normal business would want to do to keep us as customers. Until we patients once again become first parties in the processes instead of third parties, we’ll continue to be pushed around.
Resist efforts by self-interested lobbies, such as the AARP, which strive to maintain the status quo or, worse, to descend into the pit of increasingly socialized medicine. Nothing will serve us better than to greatly reduce the intervention of government and the self-serving manipulation by health insurers, while giving us back the right and wherewithal to make our own decisions about health care.