On Wednesday afternoon, I visited the dentist. I arrived a few minutes prior to my 3.30pm appointment. I greeted the receptionist, whose friendly voice over the phone was instantly recognisable in person. I was fully expecting to be handed a clipboard of tiresome forms to “update” my medical information. Instead, I was invited to take a seat.
I sank into one of the comfortable couches in the air conditioned waiting room. The coffee table wasn’t strewn with ancient magazines, and there was a flatscreen TV playing The Chase on the wall to my right (I hate that nobody ever wins any money!). I could hear my dentist tending to a patient in the surgery as I sat there, waiting. Being the only person in there, I knew that I was up next.
As I was sitting there, I could hear the friendly receptionist tending to some of the admin duties. I heard her place a follow up call to a patient who had seen the dentist recently. She asked the patient if they were still sore, and if everything worked out okay with BUPA (obviously the patient’s health insurer). She also (very smartly) placed a few calls to patients who were due for their 6 month appointments, asking if they would like to make one.
My dentist eventually came out into the waiting room to greet me. She apologised for the wait, before inviting me into the surgery. I was impressed at how well prepared she was to remember my name and the length of time since my last visit in June.
After a lot of poking and prodding and polishing, everything was looking good and it was time to settle the bill. Despite the fact that I did not respond to the recall letter that was sent to me 3 months ago, the receptionist still gave me the 15% discount for being a long time customer. She politely requested my HBF card to process my insurance claim, and then clearly showed me the amount that had been covered and the small gap that I would need to pay. I remembered to pay with EFTPOS this time, after she had to go and find the cash to give me change last time!
I departed with a small clear pencil case complete with toothbrush, floss and a business card, feeling extremely satisfied and valued.
This was one of the most amazing, person centred healthcare experiences I’ve had in a long time. It was a big contrast to the diabetes professionals I visit at a public hospital, who are often pressed for time and in high demand. My own general practitioner also lacks the time or the detail I’d often like from him, and I’ve often left feeling disappointed.
Obviously, it’s not fair to compare this experience with my diabetes care. My hospital diabetes clinic falls under public (government funded) healthcare and I pay absolutely nothing for it. However, I know that some people in Australia do pay for costly private diabetes services and still end up feeling dissatisfied. I’ve paid for many healthcare services myself in the past, and was left feeling dissatisfied.
The standard of care I received here was an incredibly refreshing change of scenery. This is what all healthcare providers, and serious business owners, should be aiming for.