April 20, 2018 | ° F

Ask the Experts:

Clinic comforts

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To the experts: What makes a good care facility? I always thought the best kind of medical professional to see was simply whomever was the most expert in the field, but it sometimes seems that other people have different priorities. My parents are super picky about their doctors and even their vets, when I really just care if someone can get the job done well. What are those other factors, and why do they matter? 

From the experts: You are right in that the most important element to consider when choosing a professional in any field is the level of expertise. You want a someone who knows what he or she is doing. But there are certainly other considerations as well, and for good reason. While you personally might be willing to sacrifice customer service and atmosphere for a high-quality physician, those seemingly nonessential elements can chase others away. Lots of people stay away from doctors simply because they hate being at the facility, either because the wait is too long or they simply do not care for the atmosphere. 

Clinics that are effective at retaining patients know that it is important to have a live person answer telephone calls, escorting patients around the clinic, and privately addressing billing — rather than in front of a busy waiting room. There are logistical considerations as well. Wait times at clinics have risen 30%  in major cities, even though this often has to do with patients arrive late for appointments, and it can take on average 24 days before a patient can see a doctor, especially if the doctor is a specialist. 

Embarrassment  is also a big factor, and it certainly plays a role in why people might avoid the doctor. OBGYNs tell us that women are often apprehensive about the vulnerability that comes with women’s health, and that providing a highly compassionate atmosphere and level of comfort and assured privacy makes a big difference to their patients — and helps reduce the fear of coming in. Patients prefer doctors who have the kind of bedside manner that helps  reduce embarrassment and promotes comfort and trust. 

But, again, you are right. It’s not worth overlooking competency just for a level of comfort. You mention that your parents are also picky about where they take the family pets. The veterinarians at Petaluma Veterinary Clinic highly stress the importance of both a fear-free atmosphere as well as achieving an AAHA Accreditation. 

If your parents consider your pets part of the family, they will want the animals to be as comfortable as possible, as well as healthy and healed. The same also obviously applies to MDs. 

Next time you go to the doctor, try out a clinic that has good ratings and reviews that indicate a strong bedside manner and a comfortable facility. You might notice that your stress level goes down and that you feel more inclined to share important information with your doctor. A tidy waiting room itself can subliminally improve your mood and trust of the doctor. 

“Health is hearty, health is harmony, health is happiness . ” ― Amit Kalantri