Friends, it’s the 21st century. And we use the internet to do, like, a million things. We chat, we communicate, we pay our bills, we do our banking. We order things so we don’t have to weave around the line of snot-leaking kids at the mall waiting to see Santa at Christmastime. We buy electronic books on our electronic readers so no one has to know that we stayed up until 4 AM reading the second book of the Hunger Games (or so I’ve heard, anyway). Heck, you can even buy your groceries online and someone will just drop them off at your doorstep.
So why on virtual earth can we not schedule a doctor’s appointment online? I can make an appointment for an oil change for the car online and this, going to the doctor, is basically the same thing– I need some routine maintenance, I would like you to check for other problems, and then see you again in 6 months. Bada-bing, bada-boom. In fact, my eye doctor let’s me schedule an appointment online, but the most sensitive thing I ever have to say to him over the phone is, “Doc, I can’t see.”
This is a recent exchange I had:
[I am at my cube in a quiet office because I need to be able to see my work calendar]
Me: [in a low voice] Hi, yes I would like to make an appointment to see Dr. J (name withheld, obviously) in the week or two.
Receptionist: [Yelling over what I can hear to be a fax machine/copier/brain-eating robot thing] HELLO! WHEN WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DR. J?!
Me: Uh, in the next 2 weeks?
Her: WHAT IS YOUR HEALTH CARE CONCERN TODAY?!
Me: Um, yeah… well… I am actually at my desk. Can I just make an appointment and uh, discuss it with the doctor at the appointment.
Her: THE DOCTOR WILL WANT TO KNOW WHAT BRINGS YOU IN, DEAR.
This point of the conversation actually made me think very hard as to why I have ever been telling a receptionist what my health care concern was. Lady, you’re not a doctor. And I don’t want to tell you anything. But then I realize that my sheepishness is probably making her think I have some real embarrassingly funky issue, and I don’t want her to think that.
I am unsure why I feel I need the acceptance and validation of the doctor’s office receptionist.
Also, if I knew what was wrong, Doc, I wouldn’t be coming in. Isn’t it your job to figure it out, not ask me to tell you? Over the phone?
Me: Yeah, I am really not interested in sharing. You see I am at work, and I just need to make an appointment.
All my coworkers within earshot probably also think I have some real funk too, since they can hear me hesitate to share.
Me: I mean, I just need a check-up, ya know? It’s not a big deal…
Her: WHAT DAY DO YOU WANT TO COME IN?
Me: Um, Wednesday morning?
Her: NO. NOTHING ON WEDNESDAY. I HAVE A FRIDAY AFTERNOON?
Me: No, afternoons actually don’t work.
Her: WHAT?! [Seriously, that fax machine is going to blow up].
Me: Afternoons don’t work.
Her: MONDAY AT 1PM?
Me: No, I can’t do the afternoon.
Her: IS THERE AN AFTERNOON THAT WOULD WORK FOR YOU?!
Me [to myself]: Yeah, lady. There is a better afternoon that would work. The afternoon that occurs in the MORNING. I said no afternoons!
Me [outloud again]: Um, is there a way I can do this online?
Her: YOU WILL HAVE TO PRE-REGISTER.
Me: How do I do that?
Her: YOU CAN DO THAT NOW OVER THE PHONE WITH ME IF YOU’D LIKE.
Me: Um, no. Nevermind. That’s okay. I’ll just… it’s not a big de–… nevermind. [Hung up].
So, explain to me, oh unjust medical world, why on some websites you can get an actual diagnosis and an actual prescription for some minor malady from the comfort of your bed or your cube, but I cannot simply look at a calendar and see that Dr. J is free on Thursday-goddamn-morning and so am I?!