I popped into my doctor’s surgery this week for a routine blood test. I was fortunate as I got an appointment quite easily which is unusual. They have a strange system of making appointments. At 8-30 am every weekday they the phone calls from people wanting appointments in the morning surgery then at 9-00 am they take appointments from people wanting to attend evening surgery. At 9-30 am they stop taking phone calls for the day’s appointments as they’ve all been taken. Unfortunately they have more people wanting appointments than there are appointments so the chances of getting through to the receptionists are almost zero (or as Don King once famously said – you’ve got 2 chances son, Slim and none and Slim’s just left town).
Because of this local people have realised that they have a better chance of getting an appointment by turning up in person so at 8-15 am a queue starts and can reach 30 people by half past. At 8-29 am these people are let in and the serendipity between phone callers and real human beings begins its balancing act.
You’re all thinking “Why don’t they let people make appointments for the following day or the one after that?” This is where the care.patient philosophy really kicks in. The answer is they just don’t. You can book a slot next week. There are a lot of disgruntled people signed up with this surgery.
But they have moved into text messaging despite their failure to grasp telephone bookings and electronic diaries. When you make an appointment a week in the future they send you a text message to confirm your appointment. Then 24 hours before your appointment they send you the same message. Then 30 minutes before your appointment (when you’re probably getting on with life) they do absolutely nothing. If you’re outside the range of your smartphone alert system you’re stuffed.
But when you get past the Krypton test style appointment system you meet their 3rd commitment to technology. You can sign in using a machine in reception rather than talk to the receptionists. I did it. Month of birth followed by day of birth and it told me my name was Laura Wilson and my appointment was 11-10am. No it isn’t. I tried to check in again and this time it told me it could not check me in and directed me to reception. I joined the queue of incorrectly identified patients to tell them their machine wasn’t working we were told in a loud and annoyed voice that the machine was working and the name shown on the screen wasn’t our name but the name of the person our appointment was with. Silly me (and the rest of the people who fell for this simple ruse de medicine). If it had said Doctor Laura Wilson I might have grasped it.
So they can’t do phone, electronic diaries, text and personless check ins. Let’s hope they never get round to databases.
Oh and you’ll be glad to know that I did have some blood in my alcohol.