An Open Letter to My Patients

Me ( White Coat Me That Is)

Many of my colleagues will think I am crazy for doing this but here goes….

I feel this note is so overdue. Thankfully, a few well-timed snow days and a couple of uncensored patient remarks have forced me to sit down and say what I have should have said weeks ago.

First, thank you.

Thank you all for giving us the privilege of being your doctors for the last decade. I feel downright honored that so many of you have chosen my practice. It is because of your confidence in me and the referrals of your friends and family that we have experienced the unprecedented growth we have.

In the last eighteen months I have hired two physicians and have purchased, built and moved into a beautiful, bright, ergonomically designed office space (ok, I admit “ergonomically” is probably not the right word.) I have hung awards on my walls and filed away countless notes of thanks.

And yet, today, my stomach hurts.

Why?

Because I have started to hear that you are not happy. It seems that the growth I am so proud of has become somewhat unsustainable. We have been letting you down. I have heard that it is hard to get through on the phones because of a busy signal. I have heard that there are no available sick appointments and that it takes too long to get results. I have heard that receptionists can be gruff, refills are delayed, and email responses take too long. This winter I found myself excusing complaints as the ranting of frustrated patients suffering from the winter blues. But it is much more than that. Many of the criticisms are valid.

Here is my side.

First, I am sorry…for all of it. I get to reap the rewards of the plaques, accolades, and notes. Therefore I must also accept the responsibility of the negative. All of my staff (receptionists, billing, nursing, Dr. T, Dr. M , and Amy) are a direct reflection of me. So, when they let you down, I have let you down. Second, I am a fixer. It is in my nature. I hear of a problem and, as long as it doesn’t involve a drill, hammer or a vacuum cleaner, I fix it. So here is what I have come up with.

1. There is not a series of small brush fires that need to be put it out, there is a bigger problem with our infrastructure. We have grown faster than we are able to correct for. My gruff staff is so because they are working really hard. And more times than not, they get yelled at (usually by me) for not pleasing a patient or giving the wrong answer. They need help and they are going to get it. I am sorry that I pulled my five receptionists aside for my own rant yesterday. I should be thanking them and helping them to do better. My next note will be to them.

2. Our phones are always busy because we have the same 22 phones we bought when we opened the doors ten years ago. We are at a point where masking tape and sharpies are not the solution. So as of this very minute we are researching a new Voice Over Internet system with expanded lines and features so no patient ever has to get a busy signal.

3. There are not enough sick appointments because ….well literally because there are not enough hours in my day. So, effective this coming week, I am adding two hours every week to my schedule. Instead of starting at 3:30 on Tuesdays, I will start at 1:30. This will allow me to see at least 8 more patients every week.

Yes, I feel that I work hard and I hate to get negative feedback. But, my job is a privilege I will not take for granted. We have grown to the point where our growth is sometimes in our way. Talk about first world problems!

Please do me two favors.

1. (gulping as I say this) Please keep the feedback coming. Try to be gentle about it because I am fragile right now. But I can’t correct what I don’t know about. I got my big girl pants on. Go ahead. Let me hear it. I intentionally put my cell number and my email on my card. Use them. I may not answer right away if I am off (I need to keep balance at home too) but I will answer.

2. Please be patient. The steps above WILL happen and are already in the works, but will take a little time. Please hang in there with me.

We have not gotten “too big,” “too impersonal” or “all about the money.” We are just human.

And isn’t that what brought you to me in the first place?

Christine

Comments

  1. Cathi Thompson says:

    Wow…just wow! I honestly have never met such a caring and concerned practice let alone an awesome doctor! You amaze me in so many ways, it’s hard to put it all into words. Just know this….you cannot and will not be able to please everyone no matter if you have your practice open 24 hours!! You truly are the BEST doctor I have ever been so very fortunate to have. I think your whole staff is just wonderful caring people…they and you are human after all. That above blog says it all! Thank you from the bottom of my heart and your staff for all you do, I for one am a very blessed and grateful patient❤️

  2. Rose says:

    I for one want to thank you and your staff – I was so grateful that day last May when you picked up your cell phone at 5:00 am on a Sunday when Bob was having chest pains. You were there for moral and professional support. When I call the office I normally get Sam and she is awesome. Growing is a double edge sword but knowing you, you will do the best you can and always be the best you are!

  3. Adel mettry says:

    Simply brilliant….

  4. Marianne says:

    Wonderfully written! A true amazing doctor and person.

  5. Kim Bowman says:

    I have been your patient for exactly one year. And I can honestly say (cause I have been in a lot), that I have NEVER experienced what you have described. Maybe it is because I call early enough in the morning to get a sick appointment. This week I witnessed, as I was in the waiting room for Dr. Amy, a new patient come on board. Your staff at the front desk welcomed him with open arms and said thank you for choosing us and welcome to our family. Dr. Amy spent as much time as i needed with her cause I kept asking questions about things. I have a bad case of strep throat but Dr. Amy reassured me I would be fine soon. Today I feel better. No one is perfect but your practice has been amazing to me. You have literally saved my life when no one else would see past the numbers on my lab work. I have nothing but praise for you and your staff. I understand rapid growth causes some issues but I’m sure it isn’t anything you can’t easily fix. How about a patient survey that way you can analysis and trend the top issues. You don’t want to start trying “fix” things without and understanding and complete view of what are the top problems. If you want help with that, I would gladly offer. It is what I do everyday for work….trending, analysis and prioritize top issues and swarm them to get them fixed……..YOU GUYS ARE the best and I think you are putting way too much pressure on yourself…..

  6. Kristin says:

    Every experience that I have had at the office and every experience I have had with the staff has been nothing but positive. I certainly appreciate everything that all of you do, and believe that you do it amazingly well. It is clear that your concern is for your patients- and that you truly care about each and every one of us. What more could anyone ask for? Thank you for all that you do- all of you- for all of us.

  7. Denise says:

    I think you are too hard on yourself, like so many of us are. You need to remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfection, but you really are one of the best doctors I have ever met, and I thank God everyday for having your office so close to my home. You and your staff are great!!! There really isn’t enough space to write all the goods here, so just keep being this great and keep believing!!! See you this week!!

  8. Thank you all so much. I feel a huge weight lifted having written that letter. Now more so after the comments and support-
    -overwhelmingly positive. I wish I had done it sooner.

  9. Ellen W. says:

    I think your staff is always pleasant and friendly. I have had to hang up and call over and over to speak to someone, but not often. If I had one wish I guess it would be for a sense of continuity. If I’m being seen for an ongoing problem (of which I have many) but even for something like an unresolved sinus infection, I would much prefer to see the same doctor (wouldn’t it be better for the same doc to see the progress or lack of?). I usually insist on seeing the same doctor if the problem hasn’t been resolved and the downside of that is that it can be a couple of weeks if you aren’t willing to see another.

  10. Ellen
    Now that is a great and construcitve criticism. It really is best to maintain continuity but we are always struggling with the balance between getting people in quickly and getting them in with their first choice of provider….We will put our heads together on that one….please let me know if you have any ideas.

  11. Sun Sherman says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting you once with your husband and then once I spoke to you on the phone . Wow , After reading this note , I literally felt your presence in the room and if you were really in front of me , I would have asked you for a hug .
    It humbled me and I am proud to have known you . Cheers.

  12. Joe Peck says:

    Dr. Meyer, I wouldn’t go another practice if you paid me! I have had a number of doctors in the past, but they all pale in comparison. I’m more than willing to put up with any delays. I know that you and your staff have my best interests in mind. I feel safer knowing you are in my life. I look forward to many more years of your care.

  13. Lori Dunn says:

    Dr Meyer. I also wouldn’t go anywhere else. You actually listen to your patients… hence the blog… that is a rarity in any profession let alone the medical profession. These past few weeks I have found myself wondering how different our lives would be if we had found you as our physician sooner. You certainly would have listened to Joe’s concerns and not put him off for two years…I know this because you have had me redo bloodwork when something didn’t look right to you. However, you managed to restore his faith in doctors with your compassion and willingness to listen to his concerns. And so do your colleagues in the office. It was Dr. M who realized that was chasing diabetic nerve pain with the wrong medication… something that two different hospitals didn’t pick up on. No…I’m not going anywhere. And I will encourage my children as they outgrow Healthy Steps to see you. After all… their father trusted you.. and that’s all they need…that’s good enough for them.

  14. Sheila Meyer says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with all of the above comments. Having been with you since you came to the Exton location I can proudly say that I will never leave your practice! I have been to quite a few doctors (as you know) and none of them even come close to your practice in terms of perfection! Of course we are all human and nobody is perfect but your office is the best I have ever been to! You know how I feel about you Christine! I am proud to call you my doctor and also a friend. You truly care about your patients and this post from you just proved that. I also want to say that I never had an issue with your receptionists! I usually talk to Sam and just love her. The nurses are fantastic too! Ok I could keep going on but I’ll stop. Stay safe during all this snow!
    Sheila

  15. Jennifer says:

    Hi Dr. Meyer, love your blog! Following you from Ridgefield, CT! We miss you and your staff family. It was hard moving to a new town and establishing new medical relationships – especially when you set the bar so high. I wish we could still be your patients – but that would require a George Jetson Flying machine! Take Care and Congratulations on your continued journey growing your practice!

  16. Tawnya says:

    As a newer patient to your practice, I have to say, I have not had any of the negative experiences you’ve listed above! Also, I am very touched by your willingness to lay your heart out on the line for us. I can tell that you and your staff, especially Dr. T, whom I just adore, truly care about your patients! Enjoy the rest of your evening with your family! God Bless!

  17. Thomas Tober says:

    Let me just say that most other medical practices should take note to how you run yours. You and your staff have provided my family with great care. I would not change thing.

  18. Mark says:

    Christine Thank you so very much you have always been there for me and yes i’m 1 of the 1′s that said u were getting to big i’m sorry I really didn’t mean it that way. You were there for me even when I had my M I some 800 miles away and for that I m very great full. I’ve been with you for what 14 years now you r the best. Again thank you for being there for me
    Mark

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I cannot imagine where ANY complaints are coming from… We recently moved here and are more than satisfied with your staff and are thankful you were recommended to us from other patients that are all too happy with your complete medical operation.

  20. Marlene and Elaine says:

    Dear Dr. Meyer (and we do mean “dear”) We have been with you since the very beginning of your practice and we hope to be with you until the end of our days – or until you decide to hang it all up and travel. At any rate, we have stayed with you because we sincerely appreciate your kind and caring ways and your skills are top drawer. We have come to trust you completely as we all work together to deal with some difficult health issues that we both have. Your staff has never been rude or shown anything but a caring attitude toward us both. We look forward to seeing them and exchanging a few words about how each others day/life is going. We appreciate the compassion you all show to us. Yes, you practice has grown tremendously over these last several years – but that is directly attributable to the skill of yourself and your staff of drs. and your PA as well as your nurses and the rest of your staff. You all fit together very well indeed. Does the growth that you have experienced effected how some patients experience their contacts with your office – yes, we imagine it would. For instance, it used to be that we could call with a question and get the answer within seconds. Now we have to wait for sometimes most of the day to get a callback with the answer. Is that a bad thing? Not unless it is something that the caller feels is urgent. We have become a society where we have come to expect immediate gratification with every need we have. Sometimes that works and sometimes it does not. Sometimes it does us good to wait a small amount of time. Do we ever feel rushed when we have an appt. with you? Never ! You always take the time to hear the reason for our visit and to talk to us about what to do next to deal with the situation. We have never felt the rush that we often feel with other drs. We have a friend who is a physician and she said she hates to have to get a certain number of patients in and out in an hour that so many offices require and that so many insurance companies require in order to pay for your time. You thankfully still have the caring, non-rushing way that you deal with the patient before you in an appt. setting. That is such a wonderful part of your practice Dr. Meyer. Are emails answered quickly? Well now, that is sometimes a problem. But you are one person Dr. Meyer and the fact that your patients have access to you in-between appts. is a rarity in the health care field. We both appreciate your availability via email. We both try to wait the 72 hrs. time frame that you have requested your patients give you. Does it sometimes go beyond the 72 hrs. – yes it does. When that happens, we simply send you a reminder email. Most often though your email responses are well within the 72 hrs. Is it difficult to get a sick appt. with you? Sometimes we may have to wait a day or two, but never beyond that. We are both a little apprehensive about a new phone system as you describe it though. One of the wonderful things about your practice is that you can always reach a “live” person. We hope that we won’t be dealing with a “robo” person now. All in all, what we are saying Dr. Meyer is that it is only natural that you and your staff and your patients are all experiencing some “growing pains” as your practice grows. Thank you for being aware of this and for working to try to smooth out the wrinkles. All of us can always stand to improve our way of relating to each other. Unfortunately we as humans seem to blame rather then to look inward. Thank you for your willingness to look inward. That is such a wonderful part of you and your staff. Many blessings to you all.
    With gratitude,
    Marlene and Elaine

  21. Stephanie Nyce says:

    Dr. Meyer… Please don’t be so hard on yourself!! You and your staff are doing an amazing job and in this day and age where the medical system is being flooded by an influx of millions of Americans who haven’t been to the doc in 10+ years and you likely aren’t getting paid a dime to see, it is amazing that you are even standing at the end of the day. What many patients don’t realize is that you are probably only given a matter of minutes in your schedule to see, diagnose (oh and get to know and care for as well) each patient… I hope that everyone who walks through those doors realizes how hard you all are working and can have a little patience and gratitude to offer for the amount of care and concern you offer. I myself am so grateful for the amazing care you give to all of my family and friends (many of whom are so thrilled I recommended you to them :-) ). You saved my husband from early hypertension and a life of heart disease in a matter of a year… Now Lilly and I get to enjoy a healthy daddy for many more years. We are even running a half marathon together in March- he has come a long way thanks to you! Be sure to keep the balance at home too- very important, perhaps most important of all!

  22. Stephanie
    That was such a welcome note. You ar so right about balance. I am so happy to hear of you guys running a 1/2 together. It is truly inspriing to see married folks still liking each other! Again thank you so much for your input…it really was so reassuring to me.

  23. Klaus B. Runge says:

    Dr. Meyer, you are an amazing lady. You balance your personal and professional life with grace and have the guts to hang out your feelings online. I have been your patient since the last century, following you from Media to Exton. Knowledge of the proper treatment is extremely important, and you have that, but the huge intangible here is your healing “bedside manner”. Medical offices make me nervous, but in yours I feel very comfortable because of the friendliness and professionalism of all the staff. With several it is like visiting with trusted old friends, a process which is also part of the path to better health. The growth of your practice is attributable to the competence of everyone in the office and the compassionate manner in which they treat the patient. A building is just brick and mortar, but your level of care is the draw that is growing the practice. . If that means longer waiting time, which I have not experienced, then so be it. I want to be in the care of the best.

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