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Why I won't ever come to your medical practice with my special needs child

Call it commentary; call it advice; call it consumer communication: Why (or better yet, 'the reasons why') I won't come to your Austin, TX or surrounding area medical practice with any of my children, especially my child with special needs. In this case the discussion is about a dental office.

You, my dear medical practice, are doomed if the exchange begins and ends like this:

"Hullo, mumble mumble dentistry [quick, trails off]."

"Me: Yes, are you taking new patients?"

"Austinorlibertyhilllocation?"

Me: "What?"

"Austinorlibertyhill?"

Me: "You are only taking patients in Liberty Hill, you say?"

"NO - Austin or Liberty Hill?"

Me: "Oh, ok. Austin, for sure."

"Ok, how many kids?"

Me: "Three."

"What insurance?"

Me: "[Insert Kind]."

Me again: "Do you see children with special needs?" [Note: their website says they do]

"Uhhhhh, um, uhhhh. Yea, yea, yea...the doctor will see special needs and then, um, uh, see if s/he can treat them."

Me: "Thank you for your time. I'll have to call you back."

Customer Service. Competence. Courtesy.
In a hurry, you say? I don't even mind if you have to put me on hold when it's done with courtesy. Too much to do? I understand, a little competence goes a long way with me. Brand new? That's ok, let me know or let me speak with a supervisor.

We will be going to Central Texas Pediatric Dentistry instead even though it is 2 miles away from our house instead of within walking distance. Who wouldn't after an exchange similar to this?

"Hello, Central Texas Pediatric Dentistry? This is Kathy** (not her real name)!"

...and then you can guess where it went from there.

And do they treat children with special needs?

"Absolutely. We can schedule a little extra time so that she will be comfortable. We can't wait to meet you all!"

I had a 'Welcome' email in my Inbox by the afternoon. I am looking forward to my email reminder. Who cares?

Well, a parent of a child with special needs probably cares, a lot. We make phone calls daily to various doctors, insurance companies, government/benefit offices, therapists, the school, and more. It's truly a potluck. A courteous and competent reception or intake is refreshing. Sadly, bored, tired, or misinformed employees can also answer the phone. Sometimes we have consumer choice in these situations; sometimes we do not.

I used to just grin and bear it, thinking I had no other choice. I don't have energy for that anymore. I ask for supervisors or find the one nice person, take down their name and extension, and try to call them and only them each and every time. If I have a consumer choice I move on to the next name on the list of referrals I have in front of me. I wonder if your practitioner knows how much business s/he is losing? It might be time to make some investment in better front office or scheduling staff.

Too much of living in this world is exhausting. I do what I can to make some of the little things easier. My life is easier when I move on. So, my local medical office, if you want my business and my decent insurance benefits, you must not make me feel worn out when I call!

Just thought you'd want to know~

more photo credit: Andy Newson

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