Today I’m going to talk about my own experience, my healthcare nightmare.
The Healthcare Nightmare
We all know that healthcare is complicated, and all health systems worldwide are facing major problems.
I would like to share my recent experience from a patient perspective. This piece is not intended to be focused on criticizing the National Health Systems (NHS) in the UK but purely about sharing its reality and how can we improve it.
Most of you know that I am an entrepreneur named João Bocas, a Portuguese national living in Brighton – United Kingdom for the last 21 years. I went to Antigua for the new year, and from the moment I arrived, I started to feel a bit of a chest upset with symptoms arising. After 10 days I came back to the UK and decided that I needed medical attention as I have not fully recovered.
Here’s what really happens and the beginning of the healthcare nightmare. On Thursday 12th of January, I called my local GP surgery to get an appointment to see a Doctor, I came across an automated message offering two alternative numbers to call and stating that they were closed. Why are they closed on a Thursday morning?
I then decided to call another local surgeon and they offer me a TeleHealth appointment – the next day Friday 13th at 12.45 pm with a Company called Livi.
Then I received instructions to download the app on my phone, to be fair the guidance was great, very straightforward, and simple. It was only one moment when I asked if I registered on the app ( Livi ) or click your text link first that was doubted, any way of course a natural process is to download the app and register.
I was very delighted, not only in getting an appointment but also in experiencing my first ever telehealth (virtual care) appointment as a patient.
To make sure I was getting a Doctor face to face appointment I insisted and called my GP for surgery, it turn out that they answered the phone and told me that today (12th January Thursday) only had emergency appointments and asked me to call them the next nest day at 8.30 am. I did call the next morning at 8.30 am but could not get through on the phone, then I decided to go and visit in person as the clinic is just around the corner from my office. It turn out that they gave me a face-to-face appointment at 14.05 at another local walking clinic, which I was very pleased about.
It happens that my 12.45 pm Telehealth consultation did not happen, my appointment was canceled due to overrunning appointments, even though I received a message stating that the reasons for the cancellation were different (see picture attached).
Then I called the Livi call center support to get another appointment, I was on the line waiting for over 13 minutes (even though they said the answering time was 8 minutes or less) – refer to the picture of the call.
Finally, they arrange another appointment at 13.45, I was on the move to my face-to-face appointment, and the Doctor asked me for my details and said right away that she could not see any Information/data on my personal health record and she could not carry out the consultation for security reasons and advise me to contact the GP surgery for a face to face appointments.
Healthcare is Complicated
I don’t understand, I’ve been in the UK for 21 years and used the NHS Health systems many many times, but no information about me was found – even though they fully identify me.
In the nutshell, it is meaningless to make telehealth appointments if you can’t carry them out, thank god I had my face-to-face appointment as a backup.
My intention with all of this was to get medical attention for my chest condition, but foremost to experience our health system (NHS) from a patient’s point of view. And in that regard was a very very painful, frustrating, and unpleasant experience.
Nevertheless, I had a magnificent and caring appointment with a GP in the walking-in clinic where he fully carry out a check on my lungs and chest, identifying my chest infection and advise me that I was on my way to recovery, I also talked briefly about my past health condition with my Asthma and I took the advice to have an inhaler at home as a preventative measure.
The consultation took just over 9 minutes ( as I timed it ), and we spoke about several things otherwise it would be much much shorter.
There is a clear need to increase empathy, trust, and human connection with patients. The Doctor’s presence is pretty much irreplaceable, as I am a fan of Digital Technologies, I see the need for patients to be reassured that they are in good hands.
My first-ever TeleHealth consultation did not happen, I had the call. But the procedure could not be fully carried out, I was very intrigued to experience the service as a patient.
Then I had another episode where a prescription was not received by the pharmacy and the pharmacist advised me to go back to my GP clinic to check, I did to go my GP Clinic they access my EHR (electronic health record) and gave me a bar code to go back to the Pharmacy for find and identify my prescription, they finally found it.
Let’s make Healthcare Uncomplicated
Here are my steps to make Healthcare delivery much simpler and uncomplicated:
- Why not create a 24-hour call center, perhaps per region/area that allocates all the appointments to patients? This would stop calling numbers that are not operational and/or not being able to make an appointment.
- Create a triage system before giving a telehealth consultation, depending on the type of patient, health condition, and needs.
- Make sure all the information is accessible before sending patients to other healthcare providers or partners
- Make sure you have enough staff resources, for a different thing. Operational and medical assistance, in my GP surgery, was only two ladies trying to juggle everything.
- Use digital technologies for self-help, repetitive tasks, medication requests, etc.
But not as an intervention to start it, as most of the time goes wrong and makes patients frustrated and back to the initial process of requesting to see a Doctor.
I could mention many other quick steps to make health easier and uncomplicated. We need to keep working.
- What do you think about the healthcare nightmare?
- Is healthcare complicated?
Please, let me know your thoughts about this nightmare, the healthcare nightmare.
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