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Healthcare

Operation successful, patient dissatisfied

When you’re in severe pain, you want assistance from a general practitioner. In that case is the telephone promptness of the out-of-hours medical service is crucial, unless they promptly give you the runaround.

However, that is precisely what happened to me. One evening, I was in a homely mood. I decided to bake a steamed Indonesian cake – roti kukus. In my mother’s recipe book, I read that I had to make batter with lukewarm milk. I had to preheat it in the microwave. So, I poured the milk into a mug and placed it in the microwave according to the instructions. After the familiar beep, I absentmindedly reached for the mug – just like I do in the mornings with Brinta – only to let out a huge cry of horror.

Trust-inspiring

What happened? The silver paint around the mug had overheated (while the milk remained cold!), resulting in a nasty burn for me. To make matters worse, my fingers stuck to the mug longer than I would have liked. Eventually, I managed to release them, but the pain was intense. There was no other option but to use my still functioning fingers to Google my problem. It advised me to cool the burn for 20 minutes and immediately call the doctor.

So I did as instructed and called the central doctor’s post. I was pleasantly surprised when they answered the phone immediately. The initial response was reassuring: “Sir, you will be called by the doctor as soon as possible.” But then things went wrong. I had to wait for three quarters of an hour. Eventually, to my great irritation, I spoke to someone who read out a questionnaire. After that, they provided me with advice that wasn’t very helpful. This led me to decide to go to the hospital instead, where I was treated perfectly.

When you have burned fingers, you’re not looking for a fast-responding person on the phone, but for first aid assistance

Michael Akudaman

Limiting repeat phone calls

Later I understood that the issue at my general practitioner’s office is driven by a key performance indicator (KPI). This office primarily steers on how quickly the phone is answered. This gives them the impression that they perform well, while patients may not have been helped at all.

At the general practitioner’s office in Drenthe – unfortunately not my own general practitioner’s office – they do things differently. There, they aim to provide as many comprehensive advices as possible, which resolve the patient’s issue in one go. They also strive to minimize the number of follow-up calls. As a result, the focus is on providing the most effective assistance to the patient, which alleviates the pain.

When you have burned fingers, you’re not looking for someone who responds quickly on the phone, but rather for first aid assistance.