DECEMBER 28, 2020
ANOTHER DAY AT THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE
Masters of Business Administration programs have provided universities with healthy tuition dollars and, often, donations from successful MBA graduates. But, has the growth in MBA numbers benefited society and business? Has it benefitted the graduate’s sense of worth? Sometimes, but sometimes not.
For the health care industry, one might conclude not.
Formerly, doctors and dentists ran their businesses without managers with MBA degrees. They might have asked an accountant to prepare tax returns or keep track of expenses and salary checks, but generally the care givers controlled the business.
For reason that may relate to medical insurance requirements or federal health insurance programs, the small doctor and dentist office is disappearing. Now, an MBA is more likely in charge of the “business” end of things than one of the doctors. This change has altered medical and dental practice.
Someone in her late 70’s is surprised when she is asking her internist questions after an annual physical and the internist looks at her watch and announces: “You are two minutes over your seventeen-minute limit.
Surprise! The MBA who now runs the office knows that doctors can augment profits if they limit the time doctors spend with each patient. Simple math. Good medicine? So, now patients hear from their doctor: “You have three more minutes.”
One feature of medical and dental practice that the MBA manager detests is the frequent number of patients who are late for or cancel appointments on short notice. That patient behavior affects the bottom line adversely, and the manager will go to great lengths to prevent this appointment abuse. But how?
Reminders sent by automated reminder phone calls is one and one that serves patients as well as doctors. “This is a reminder that you have an appointment with Dr. Jones tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.”
Another is to require patients to come to the office one-half hour before the scheduled appointment. Patients who do not show early serve to warn the office manager that Mr. Smith might be a no-show today, and it may be time to call another patient whom the manager was unable to schedule that time or that day.
But what if the doctor is late? Well, in that case, the patient had better bring a magazine to the office.
And, what if the doctor is a no show? What if the patient scheduled a visit with Doctor X who decided that the week of the appointment would be a good week to spend at Cancun?
No problem, just schedule the patient to see Dr. Y. And when the patient has spent time reading a magazine and Dr. Y is about ready to see the patient, have the nurse bring the patient to the examining room, dress or undress to whatever level is important, take the patient’s blood pressure, and weigh the patient. Then Dr. Y arrives, and the patient asks for Dr. X. “I’ll be caring for you today,” Does the patient get out of the chair and leave, or does the patient acquiesce? Many will do a slow burn but will stay. [This practice is more common in a specialist’s office, especially a dental specialist. Patient knows that Dr. X is world famous but has no advanced knowledge of who Dr. Y is.]
Now, aren’t we glad that young people have gone to college and graduated from business school to learn how to make money for their employers?