Monday, June 29, 2015

Month 5 - Complaint about the NHS

I have been complimentary of the NHS now I want to whine a little.   Actually not just about the NHS as I had the same gripe about the medical establishment in the US.

Why has the rest of the business world, and even most of the government, moved to allow, and even encourage, electronic means of communication?

My GP practice has just started to offer an online consultation which I have used and whole heartedly support but they don't offer a simple contact form that could be used instead of a phone call.   I particularily wish they had this facility as they have been impossible to contact by phone the last couple times that I have tried.

Same comment in regards to the MS Team at Charing Cross.   I have an email address for one of the nurses but she works with trials and not the day to day treatment.   Email addresses should be available just like phone numbers AND people should be expected to respond to email within some reasonable amount of time.

Ok, there are issues with workflow control around personal email.   Just as there are around phone contacts.   But with email there are all kinds of systems that can be easily implemented to manage that workflow.  Free ones even (I can like open source stuff now that I am not in corporate IT)!

As I said, I had the same complaint in the US.   I remember sitting in my neurologists office observing his assistant.   She was adamant about not giving out an email address to patients.  I would then watch her on the phone with a patient inevitably spending the first minute or two on small talk that would not be part of an email dialog.   Handling of email can also happen at any time filling in otherwise idle time.   Sure there are cases where a phone call is required, and there are people who do not use email.  In the former fine, make the call, in the latter case, make the call knowing that this particular patient probably belongs to a generation that will not be around much longer anyway.  Interestingly the doctor was all over email.  It was the gatekeeper that was against it.   Same generation to which I just referred.

Ironically I recently had an experience where I was working with the Social Security Administration, their office in the US Embassy in London, and the NHS.   The embassy had requested my medical records and I was trying to get a status.   Working with the NHS was PAINFUL.   I left a couple messages on a contact form only to have them be ignored.  I could not find a relevant email address for any kind of records function.  Meanwhile all of my communications with the embassy were by email.   All of my exchanges happened within the service level they advertised and they were all helpful.

Frustrating.  What does the medical establishment have against electronic means of communication?  The gatekeepers union?

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