Take time to learn your tools

Receptionist phoneYesterday (Thursday) I got a phone call from a doctor’s office I called on Tuesday. The receptionist was calling me back to confirm that my doctor would take my wife as a new patient even though he is currently not taking new patients. This was good news.

The receptionist asked to speak with my wife to get all her information. Since I am clueless as to my wife’s address, phone number and birthdate, I relinquished the phone to her. The conversation included my wife having to give her Social Security number 4 times. Address, phone number and birthdate 3 times. This was because the receptionist (who schedules all the appointments) was having trouble with the “new” computer system.

In my phone conversation with the receptionist on Tuesday I had to go through similar antics. After giving all of my information once, she had to ask for it again. I think I probably went through the whole battery of questions 3 times.

Since I am an existing patient and they have a new computer system I can understand that the receptionist would want to verify my information in their computer. But the data from the old computer system did not get pulled into the new system. So she was having to input it all for the very first time. That seems poorly implemented.

Here’s the rub though. If the system was “new” on Tuesday and all this receptionist does is schedule appointments and input data into the computer, shouldn’t she be better at it after 2 days of use? I can’t imagine having as much problem inputing data into a computer after 2 days as I did the first day. My suspicion is that the system is not “new”, as in, this week, but “new”, as in, the last week or two.

One would hope that the doctor knows how to use his tools before he starts working on you. Shouldn’t other professions be trained in their tools too? I know data entry may not be as life-critical as a surgeon’s work, but you should be able to accomplish such a simple task with at least 2 full days of practice. This isn’t brain surgery; it is data entry.

I try not to be harsh on older people who are trying to learn new technology, but if you have a tool that you are supposed to use for work, you should be able to adapt to it pretty quickly or maybe look at a different line of work. I have no idea how old the lady is in the doctor’s office, but I have never seen anyone in there older than maybe 50 except for one nurse who I am sure is not the data entry specialist.

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