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

Is this you on the other end of my line?
Is this you on the other end of my line?
Andy Newson

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?"


Me: "What?"


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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