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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 12/8/22

December 8, 2022 Dr. Jayne 3 Comments

More stories of absurdity from the patient trenches this week. A few weeks ago, I had the sudden onset of a cluster of itchy blisters on one side of the base of my neck. Being part of the generations that had chicken pox and knowing that if it was shingles it needed to be addressed quickly, I was lucky enough to have a next-day appointment with my dermatologist. She diagnosed it as insect bites and sent me on my merry way (of course after also examining every speck of skin to make sure all was well).

Today, I received a letter from my insurance company informing me that they would not pay for the visit because they need to know if it’s related to an accident or injury. I’ve seen these letters before, especially when there are traumatic injuries and the payer is trying to make sure it’s not due to a motor vehicle accident or a work injury, but I’ve never seen one for an insect bite. It just goes to show the lengths a payer will go to in order to avoid paying for a medically appropriate service.

Just when I thought that was strange enough, I ran into another patient-side issue. I received a notification that I had a new document in my patient portal record, which made sense due to my recent outpatient procedure. On one hand, I like seeing the documents from the patient perspective to make sure they match what I was told during the visit, especially if there was a chance that I was still in a post-anesthesia fog after the procedure. On the other hand, I always like to see how other physicians are documenting, and whether they’re using templates or dictation.

I went to look at the new document and it was indeed a procedure report. Unfortunately, the details of the report simply said, “there is no information for this result.” I think that takes the idea of “no news is good news” way too far. What’s the point of having a result on the chart if there’s no information?

From Jimmy the Greek: “Re: Slack. Did you see the write-up about Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield leaving Salesforce? One of the reasons cited in a Slack message to employees: ‘I fantasize about gardening.’ It’s more like ‘I’m a billionaire many times over, why would I continue to work?’” Why would one continue to work, indeed. I’m sure most of us could come up with a list of fulfilling things to do if we didn’t depend on a steady paycheck. I have a long list of volunteer work that I would become fully immersed in if I had that kind of money, but for now, I’ll have to stick with my current “one hour per week” volunteer responsibilities, which have never been as low as that.


From Holidazed: “Re: holiday gift. Check out what NYU docs received. It’s a collection of speeches and letters from the CEO to students and staff, as delivered over 15 years that he’s held the position. It strikes me as great hubris. It’s a hugely glossy, heavy book. I can’t imagine how much it cost to craft this vanity project and mail it out.” The reader included a copy of the card, signed by Dean and CEO of NYU Langone Health Robert I. Grossman, which states, “In 2007, when I assumed the role of Dean and CEO, my intention was to unify the NYU Langone community around a common goal of fulfilling our true potential for greatness. I began writing In Touch with that in mind, as a way to share the progressive glimpses of what I care about, believe in, and hope for. Fifteen years later, I’m enormously proud of what we’ve achieved together. NYU Langone would never have become the top academic health system in the country without each and every one of you. Now, as we look to the future and seek to hold our position at the top, it’s worth taking time to reflect on the past. I hope this collection of In Touch essays provides an opportunity to take stock of what we’ve been through – both the challenges we’ve overcome and the opportunities we’ve seized – and inspires you to keep striving.”

Holiday gifts have become a hot topic in the virtual physician lounge over the last couple of weeks, as many of my colleagues as for opinions on how to celebrate their staff members. There are also plenty of posts about ridiculous things that hospitals have given employees, including challenge coins, visits from therapy dogs, and endless pizza parties. I polled a couple of colleagues to see what happens in their tech-related firms to see if it’s any different than what we are seeing in health care. Some of the things happening out there include time off for teams to volunteer together, small parties or dinners, and virtual celebrations that include food delivery gift cards for those team members who work remotely. One firm has an “Ugly Sweater Soiree” and I can’t wait to see the pictures of that one.

I’ve been around the block as far as corporate gifting, and what I’ve seen has been all over the map. One employer sent out leather tote bags. but made assumptions on who should have versions for men versus ladies. Although I’ve gotten a lot of use from the one I received, I would have preferred the other option. Last year I received a fruit basket that had decayed by the time it made it to my door. One former boss made a significant charitable donation in honor of our team, which was very touching. Of course, gift certificates are always a hit since they allow for an element of personal choice. By far the gift that has been the most useful was from a health system employer, who gave each worker a set of high-quality jumper cables. The first person I assisted was my EHR vendor’s rep when his truck died in our office parking lot the following January. They have been used at campgrounds, school parking lots, and to teach basic automotive skills to neighborhood kids, so they will always remind me of my decade in that particular workplace.

What do you think about holiday gifting? What are the best and worst corporate gifts you’ve seen? As an employee, what is really on your wish list? Leave a comment or email me.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Picture, if you will, an entire office of people holding a hundred dollar bill in one hand, a letter in the other, and all softly sobbing.

    The “big” Christmas present was a picnic bundle – a solar cell phone charger, branded cup, branded picnic blanket and a rolling cooler with embedded speakers. But the highlight was an envelope with a hundred dollar bill and a letter from our CEO. The letter described his childhood in foster care, in and out of various foster homes. After a few years, he was placed with a wonderful family. He truly loved them but couldn’t handle that anyone would or could actually love him. He ran away from them and eventually ended up in a children’s home. Christmas that year in the home was especially hard for him – a lot of other children went to stay with family members, and he was largely alone in the dormitory. He woke Christmas morning to find an envelope on the floor from an anonymous person, with a $100 bill inside. He was taken aback, not to mention confused, that someone who didn’t even know him would give him a present, especially such a generous one. From there, his life got better – he reunited with the foster family he loved, attended college and eventually founded several successful businesses. In honor of his mysterious benefactor, every Christmas he shares his story with his 600+ employees, and includes a crisp $100 bill.

  2. I think it might have been on this blog, but also somewhere else, that I saw the sentiment “How did your employer thank you for working during COVID, and what toppings were on the pizza?” I think what a lot of people in healthcare want for Christmas is to be treated with dignity. Handing out an essay collection is just unhelpful pontification. Great hubris as the commenter put it. I think most employees want management to give them a raise that helps them manage inflation, for management to hire the extra staff so overtime isn’t the norm, etc.

    When I’m out for a drink I sometimes overhear people talking healthcare. I’ll strike up a conversation and ask if they are a provider, and if they worked the COVID units (which ends up being almost everyone). I thank them for their work, then quietly pick up their tab. For many, it’s better than what their employers did.

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