I went to the doctor yesterday. Somehow doctor’s offices just don’t seem to be what they used to be. They have become so automated that I felt like I should be on a conveyor belt — or maybe on one of those people movers like they have in airports where you jump onto a moving sidewalk and continue through the terminal without stopping.
“Hello, I’m here for my appointment.”
“Sign in on the clipboard,” says the receptionist, as she runs my insurance card through the copy machine. “We have 26 doctors and hundreds of patients every day. We are completely automated now.” I will transfer your insurance information to your nurse’s computer.
I hop onto the moving sidewalk and proceed into the waiting area, grabbing an old-fashioned magazine from a table as we pass. I flip through the pages and watch the other patients who look up from their cell phones and disappear through a door as their names are called. Finally, the sidewalk approaches the entrance. I toss my magazine aside as my name is called, and I proceed through the door where a nurse reads my insurance information from a laptop computer on wheels.
“First room on the left,” she says as the conveyer belt slides me through the triage office. “Any changes in your meds? Are you still taking, this, that, and the other,” as she reads off the list from my electronic medical record.
“Yes, yes, yes”, I say. She does a quick blood pressure check, takes my temperature, and my weight flashes before my eyes in red digital numbers.
Before I can ask any questions, the sidewalk moves me to the hallway where a long row of chairs waits for the unlucky patients pulled off of the assembly line for various medical tests. I proceed slowly past them down the hall until I come to an empty examination room.
“The doctor will be with you in a moment.”
The sidewalk proceeds into the exam room. The doctor enters in a white coat looking at my medical chart on the iPad in his hand.
“How are you today?”
“I feel pretty good,” I say.
The doctor frowns. Wrong answer, I conclude.
I try again as the conveyer belt moves me towards the back of the room and the stainless steel sink with the funny faucet. I pass the countertop full of cotton balls, tongue depressors, long swabs and rubber gloves. I wonder where it will take me if I don’t get the answer right.
“I’m not tense any more… I’m sleeping better… and I don’t have any nausea at all.”
“Good!” he smiles. “We will leave you on the same medication.”
I feel relieved as I move forward past the examination table without stopping. The doctor enters the updated information into his iPad as I head out the door. “We will transfer your prescriptions to your drug store electronically.” he says.
“Come back in three months,” he calls. I nod and wave goodbye as the conveyer belt heads up the steep incline toward the large exit sign, and then drops rapidly down the long hall to the check-out desk while I hold on for dear life.
As I reach bottom, a medical clerk stares into a computer screen that flashes the story of my life, medically and financially. “We will file this with your insurance company,” she says as fingers fly and computer keys click.
“I’ll make an appointment for your next visit.” She passes me a printout with my appointment and an assistant holds my hand as I jump off the assembly line and back into reality.
I head for the elevator to the parking garage feeling a little shaken and wondering what in the heck happened. Was that for real or did I just imagine it? But I must have been at the doctor’s office -– I have already received an email on my cell phone reminding me of my next appointment.
Maybe I’m sicker than I thought -– or maybe I’m okay, and it’s the medical world that needs a reality check. Somehow I feel that it won’t be long until machines do my entire check-up with a people scanner and I will not see the doctor at all.
Copyright 2001-2016 Sheila Moss
Okay, I admit I may have exaggerated a bit here… but not much. Do you ever feel like I did in this story?