Next Time I Will Text..

I walked into the family practice office of a major academic medical center the other day. I wanted to leave a message or hopefully have a moment to speak with a certain colleague.

My timing was bad because the office was in full swing. There were 3 people working at the front desk - all busy with patients. An elderly woman was at the front desk trying to use the electronic sign in. There wasn't much of a reception area, because the open space was full of cubicles where staff was busy at computer terminals with check in, check out and other related activities.

I could see down perpendicular hallways where I believe the exam rooms are located. I saw no doctors as I glanced around because the doctors are required to wear badges with the word DOCTOR boldly written. I am confused as to whom to approach. No one offers assistance. Everyone is busy behind their computer screens. Interestingly, it seems as though they are all women working behind at these terminals.

The layout of the office looks well thought out, deliberate - designed to maximize efficiency. With all of its efficiency, I had to wonder "Is this what we want"? Is it possible to focus on health and healthcare, efficiency and healing, patient centered versus economical.

This is not a criticism of what I saw but an observation. Undoubtedly there are huge challenges to providing daily clinical care to large and diverse patient populations. Next time, I want to reach my colleague I will probably text.

Sharan Abdul-Rahman, MD

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