Our office was closed last week. We do have our personal lives and not just work. Kaaren took a vacation and I went to Florida to check on my 91 year old mother (I just get to see her once a year because of the demands of this practice).
When we had a total of 61 phone calls during our absence. Medical phone calls are complicated because you must open the patient’s record and write in everything about the conversation. If a medication is changed, it requires contacting the pharmacy and etc. The typical medical phone message takes 30 minutes to resolve.
So, when you look at the volume of phone calls that we had waiting, and considering how much time it takes to address each one, if we did nothing but answer phone calls, not eat, not sleep, not go to the bathroom and certainly not seeing patients, it would still take us about 2-3 days to resolve them all.
However, in the real world, we have a full patient schedule. We can’t make a patient sit and wait for a hour while we do phone calls as it would not be fair to them. So despite working long days without breaks, it may still take a week to resolve all these calls.
I just want our patients to know that we care deeply about them. We never just ignore phone calls because we don’t care. But I do ask that you please be patient and we will get to your phone calls in the order that they come in. I do ask that you limit your calls to important matters such as issues with medications or simply not doing well. Please don’t call to discuss things that you’ve read on the Internet, seen on the news or friends have told you. We are constantly monitoring the world of headache research and virtually all the things you hear about on the news are old or fringe. If you want to discuss those things, please do at the next appointment.
Also, we never schedule patients in more than we have to. I always love the day when a patient has reached that 80% improvement mark and have graduated to the yearly visit or we turn them back over to their PCP. So, when a patient doesn’t keep their follow up appointment, but then calls to discuss problems, those phone calls are put at a lower priority below those patients who do keep their appointments. That’s the purpose of follow up appointments, to keep the patient on the right course to wellness and to avoid problems. Many of our phone messages are from patients who never kept their follow up appointments but are now in trouble.