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Reader Survey Results: What characteristics made the worst doctor you’ve ever had so bad?

June 18, 2017 Uncategorized 2 Comments


I asked readers what characteristics made the worst doctor they’ve ever had so bad.

Poor personal hygiene.

Seems otherwise occupied; rushes visit.

One who makes me feel their time with me is inconvenient.

Arrogance is a huge problem. Refusal to learn about new programs is a huge roadblock.

That’s easy – his inability to ask questions and listen. The result? Several misdiagnoses.

Two of my PCPs stand out as the worst in my experience:
1. One asked for candor but didn’t seem to want it. In my early college days, I disclosed during a social history check that I did, in fact, have a few drinks per month. The doctor was distinctly colder to me throughout the rest of the checkup.
2. Another decided that it was easier to assume I was lying about my symptoms than do the due diligence. This doctor actually told me that what later turned out to be a legitimate respiratory problem was “all in my head” and probed me for what might be “going on in my life” that I was lying about this problem to avoid.

Arrogance, cockiness, thinking they know your own body better than you, unwilling to listen to or quickly dismissing questions of serious concern to the patient, rushing the visit because the last guy took too long and patients are waiting in the lobby.

She made snap judgments about my health state. Continually ignored data that didn’t match her snap diagnosis and then put a pregnancy at risk because she didn’t ask better probing questions to figure out I was having gallbladder attacks.

I was willing to forgive this and a long, fear-ridden pregnancy because to some degree my symptoms were asymptomatic, BUT she then instituted a rule after years of delayed, long waiting times that if you as a patient were late for an appointment, that she would not  give you your full time slot. At my very first appointment after giving birth and having post-partum gallbladder removal, the first time she’d seen me since missing a year’s long series of gallbladder attacks, she had a very embarrassed nurse tell me that because I was 10 minutes late I wouldn’t get my full annual appointment check up. I got dressed, left the room, and changed doctors.

Two separate doctors who told me that my (very real) pain was all in my head and that I needed to "relax." This kind of disregard and automatic dismissal of the patient is chronic in treatment (or I guess non-treatment) of "women’s issues." If something I’m experiencing is bad enough that not only am I going to take a day off to go to your office, but I’m going to get my feet up in stirrups … you better not call me a liar.

New patient visit with physician who had little interest in hearing what the patient had to say and didn’t perform any type of exam. She read the MA intake notes, told me what labs she would order, and that she’d see me back after the labs were received. She then advised that the problems that prompted the visit were, in her expert opinion, generally due to poor diet and she highly recommended I purchase the diet supplements sold in her practice. She billed the visit to my insurance as a comprehensive new patient examination (something that requires a complete physical exam!). I never returned and filed a complaint with my insurance company regarding her fraudulent billing (which unfortunately went nowhere because apparently patient complaints to the insurance company don’t matter).

Thinking they are always right.

He was infuriated that after spending a good half hour with me discussing my needs, I decided to have my surgery and care provided by another physician. He practically threw me out of his office and threatened to call security if I didn’t immediately leave.

Physical: unclipped fingernails on a dentist.

Cold. Conversation was awkward. On a follow-up visit, she entered the room and just stared at me, as if it was up to me to initiate the discussion. So … last time you saw me …

An unwillingness to listen and an attitude that he knew everything and was always right, which was not true!

Would not listen,acted liked I was bothering him, and then seriously misdiagnosed me on top of it all. It was the beginning of me looking to alternative medicine for at least some problems.

Lack of respect for me and my problems.

Disinterest in patient, deferential attitude, otherwise preoccupied, feeling like patient was wasting doctor’s time.

Not explaining the pros and cons of recommended medications to me during labor and generally being dismissive of my questions. This was not my regular OB but the hospitalist who happened to be on call when I was triaged with my first child.

Reader Survey Results: Would you recommend to a relative or colleague that they change careers to health IT?

June 9, 2017 Uncategorized No Comments


I asked if readers would recommend to a relative or colleague that they change careers to health IT.

As I approach retirement, I enjoy having this debate with colleagues my age and with 30-somethings. I was initially involved in healthcare delivery, graduating to healthcare IT over time. My observation is that most of the senior workers recall what we would call a "good job," where you left work at a reasonable time, valued your home life, and were active enough that you didn’t have to pay huge fees to a gym in an effort to stay in shape.

It does not appear the majority of younger staff have ever experienced a job where they felt valued, where the company invested in them, where there were true career paths. Few report a job where a sense of loyalty was engendered. At a certain point, healthcare IT (and IT in general) evolved into this organism that demands 24/7 availability and accessibility, freely doles out periods of excessive hours, covertly considers a commitment to family an impediment to success, provides minimal mentoring and training, and where the management mantra boils down to "do more with less," "work smarter," or some similar analog. The question we deliberate: Which of the groups is happier with their career?

I would not recommend a career in health IT, with a few specialized exceptions.

Why: growth industry. Also the ability to be creative. Room to innovate, or coast or dabble, whatever fits your interests.

My wise old Italian immigrant father told me long ago when I started this crazy ride in healthcare IT that "people will always be sick and people will always need computers". Job security, there’s that. Although the ride has been bumpy at times, I look back fondly at my 25+ year career in this industry. I’ve met some fantastic people (and some not so fantastic people), and some really smart people. I’ve learned a lot, travelled a lot, and am passionate about what I do.

Went to school for finance/accounting and made the switch myself after chatting with a neighbor who was a healthcare IT guy. I thought he was pretty smart and he got me my first interview, and off I went from there. So yes, I would, but only if people were looking for something new.

An IT career professional needs to transcend any primary allegiance to IT and become a healthcare professional with an IT specialty, and become customer-focused. Depending on the person, that may be a stretch – especially mid-career.

Yes, I would. There are significant opportunities for those, particularly with a healthcare background, to contribute to on-going needs of health IT. As a licensed pharmacist who worked in retail for 18 years, then moved to the IT space, I’m finding much more satisfaction and sanity in working in the IT space than I ever found working the bench in McPharmacy. As data sharing continues to develop, it will be amazing to see what population health details will develop over the coming years.

Maybe. I enjoy working in the field because I love feeling like I can make a difference in peoples’ health even though I am not a clinician, and of course, it’s exciting to be in a growth industry. That said, it can be frustrating that not having a clinical background can mean always being seen as less credible, no matter how long you’ve been in the industry.

I just did, actually, to a friend who’s studying to be a software engineer (and who had previously considered healthcare). I told him it was an interesting and ever-changing field with enormous breadth, and that it was a way to be paid well while still doing something truly important.

My caveats: It will also make you want to rip your hair out, and possibly ruin most of your faith in doctors. (#NotAllDoctors)

No – I got in 22 years ago and having been trying to get out ever since! It’s like The Godfather III …

No. The demands are outrageous, the funding for IT initiatives takes the back seat to clinical initiatives, and healthcare is in the middle of a major upheaval based on budget and governmental initiatives. I would suggest something more stable.

Yes, absolutely. Health IT is and will continue to grow. Given how behind the times we are with regards to so many of the technologies available, there is ample room to jump in and make a big difference. Also, it just feels good to know you are making a meaningful difference to people doing good work. I’m not just clocking in to help people find a good restaurant, respond to the latest Internet meme, or play the cool new game. We are making a difference in the health of our communities.

I don’t know that I would recommend a career change, but I would encourage recent graduates to explore health IT as a career option. My own daughters have had the pleasurable (torturous) experience of my 20 years in HIT, they aren’t so impressed with my career choices. I remind them that it kept a roof over their heads, and computers in their rooms.

There is nothing wrong with changing careers to a specific industry. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before with other industries. We all at one point reinvent ourselves. Why should healthcare be any different?

YES: You will always have a job/career where you know it matters whether or not you come to work. You will be busy beyond your wildest imagination. And if you are good, there is never a day when you will be unemployed, wonder where you will work next, or not have the ability to be challenged.

NO: In the 30 years I have worked in this industry, I have had few days “off.” The pace is grueling, the management short-sighted or not focused on the mission, and the initiatives are always under-resourced.

Nope. It’s just a negative, stressful industry. Doctors resent EHRs and hate being forced to use technology, practices are overworked and understaffed, vendors haven’t been able to add too many cool features because they need to keep up with government regulations, and now all the hacking and ransomware scares …

Not in a traditional health IT role because of the constant pressure to cut costs and shave corners. One area I would recommend as a viable opportunity would be any position related to health analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

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