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Dear Mom and Dad: Are you calling your pediatrician’s office too often?

I work as a pediatrician in a bustling metropolis, in an outpatient setting of a world-renowned academic center. One of those non-profit hospitals you see in television ads. For the last three years, our outpatient encounters have plummeted, and the mothership has put all efforts into recuperating financial losses. Meanwhile, our office phones are ringing off the hook, and we cannot seem to hire enough nursing staff to deal with the phone volume and our patients’ needs not to mention the dreaded “patient portal that allows patients free and direct access to their doctor. It’s a full-time job to reply to these patient messages in and of itself. So, in a lucrative and secure business such as health care (which will exist as long as human beings exist), why are hospitals and private practices struggling to keep their clinic slots full? Obviously, this is a question that is multifaceted in its causality, but one of the most important contributing factors is that people are expecting free and convenient care, and are becoming all too good at obtaining it.

While I practice pediatrics full time, I’m also a mom of two and the wife of a full time working physician. We were the stubborn couple who tried to do it all without a nanny and without local family. Our children went to daycare as of six weeks of age, contracting every illness from RSV to the flu to hand foot and mouth to colic and terrible toddler tantrums and every hurdle in between.

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Your patients are rating you online: How to respond. Manage your online reputation: A social media guide. Find out how.


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