All of us have, at one time or another, found it frustrating when scheduling an appointment with a healthcare provider. Below is a common issue that many clients run into when attempting to schedule an appointment to see their doctor:
Schedulers often request detailed symptom descriptions.
An obstacle that you may face from time to time is, in order to secure an appointment, the scheduler will request data that is personal in nature. Identifying information such as name, birthdate, telephone number, etc. should not be withheld from the scheduler; otherwise they cannot identify you as a patient. That said, you are not required to give a detailed description of underlying symptoms beyond your comfort level.
An example of this exact situation occurred with a friend recently. “Jim” was trying to get an appointment to see his internal medicine doctor whom he has seen for over 8 years. The scheduler was asking for very detailed information of his symptoms, and he was not comfortable sharing those with her. She made it clear that she would not make an appointment until she had the symptoms and when Jim declined to give her what she asked for, she refused to offer an appointment.
Jim then called me to share his conversation and we discussed the circumstances. He explained that sharing deeply personal information with someone with no professional medical credentials did not sit well with him. He was able to vent his frustration and then we discussed a few pointers on how to navigate the situation that would keep his discomfort at bay.
After our conversation, Jim called the Medical office again and asked to speak to the nurse. The scheduler responded that in order to speak with the nurse, she would need the symptoms. As we discussed as an option, Jim chose an innocuous symptom (a stomachache) and again requested to speak with the nurse. The scheduler then complied and agreed to send a message to the nurse to return Jim’s call. Once the nurse called him, he was able to explain the symptoms in detail. Sharing his personal and intimate symptoms with a medical professional made Jim far more comfortable.
This is not to say that asking for symptoms is unreasonable, it is simply unfair to assume that all symptoms are something that a reasonable person would want to discuss with someone that is not a medical professional. Different people have different levels of comfort when speaking with medical staff and Jim is a very private person. Use your own comfort level when making the decision about how much information you wish to share with reception and/or schedulers.
Another solution would be to engage the services of a Patient Advocacy firm. Advocacy firms, such AmbassaCare, can assist you in securing appointments with healthcare providers. Advocates are medical professionals and are able to achieve success when the traditional routes of making an appointment with a healthcare provider are not successful. Advocacy firms have many additional services available to assist you including- accompanying you to a healthcare provider visit, negotiating medical bills, dietitian services, comprehensive drug interaction reports and more.
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