Waiting...I drove an hour yesterday to have my eyes examined by an OMD for whom I have good deal of respect. The OMD has a well-decorated office with beautiful stone work, a 250 gallon tropical fish tank, an extremely courteous and knowledgeable staff, and a nice little dispensary that carries ProDesign and EyeDC among others; everything you might think necessary to deliver a “wow” experience.

In fact, I was delivered a “wow” experience. I was impressed with the technicians’ friendliness, knowledge, and professionalism. The fancy new autorefractor resulted in the quickest and probably most effective refraction I’d ever received. And of course, I always love a cool fish tank. Sadly, however, I walked out the office two hours later feeling disrespected. Before my appointment had ended it became clear my time and consequently, my value to the practice meant very little.

It began as soon as I walked in the door. I received no “hello”, no smile, not even a glance. I had been through the drill before, so I walked up and searched the counter for what appeared to be a sign-in sheet. I dutifully filled in my name and check-in time then sat down and began to wait. After awhile, I was called to fill out the requisite forms then directed to sit back down and wait some more. Typical.

Twenty minutes had passed before I began to think (as I often do in doctor’s office waiting rooms), “What is the point of having an appointment, if I am not going to be seen reasonably close to my appointment time?” Of course the answer is: the doctor’s time is more important than my own; the doctor is a “Doctor” and I am merely a patient not a customer. Customers aren’t made to wait, if they are, they usually just get up and leave.

So, an hour passed before I was finally called in for a refraction, perhaps the first I’d ever actually enjoyed. The tech had some fun with my son, who was amazed by this machine with its flashing lights, resembling something from his new favorite movie, Wall*E. Soon, however we were directed back to the waiting room to wait… again.

Fifteen minutes later I was called in to have my pressures checked and pupils dilated (never much fun), after which, of course, I knew I would have to wait… again.

Twenty minutes later, I was called in to see the Doc – a cordial and pleasant experience. Predictably, after the exam, I had to wait another 10 minutes for the privilege of paying the bill! Incredibly, in the two hours I spent in the office, I was never asked to look at frames.

Waiting in doctors’ offices is such common place it is usually expected as part of the routine. Fortunately, lowered expectations make it easier for willing practices to exceed expectations. Unfortunately, all the effort this practice staff and management had put into exceeding expectations only served to highlight the oversight. If only I had half the wait or had someone acknowledge my time, perhaps even <gasp> apologize for wasting it, my visit would have left me with an entirely different impression.

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