There could not be anything more different than the experience one has between checking in at the doctor’s office and checking in to the Ritz-Carlton.
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When patients check in to a typical doctor’s office, they usually have to sign in and then wait to be called. Upon being summoned to the front desk, a clipboard is thrust in front of the patient upon which she must recall her entire medical history. Then, more often than not, she is asked to wait for an indeterminate amount of time, sitting on a hard, plastic chair with only a television blaring ads for prescription drugs or outdated magazines for distraction. Once led back to the exam room, the wait continues. When the doctor is finally ready, they might get 15 minutes together, and nowadays, doctors often need to spend more time staring at a computer screen inputting responses into the electronic health record system.
At a luxury hotel, it’s fair to say the experience is the opposite of that at a doctor’s office. Yet, that makes no sense, as health is more important than a vacation. And as any doctor will say, spending more meaningful time with a patient is essential for quality care.
Of course, there are concierge medical practices in which patients pay anywhere from $250 to $25,000 a year to get the “Ritz-Carlton” treatment in their medical care. But to truly reform our healthcare system, we need to bring concierge-level care to every patient.
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For a primary care doctor, establishing trust is critical. It means empowering patients to reach out at the first sign of a problem so they can receive treatment early before a condition becomes more serious. It means patients following recommendations to take medications on time and make lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise modifications.