Close The Loop

Close The Loop


Leonard Zwelling

When you get to be my age, you find yourself on phone calls and emails with doctors’ offices on a regular basis.

Today was one of those days.

I fear I need a reinjection of my epidural space with steroids. The leg pain really got better after the procedure on January 8, but the symptoms are coming back as I was warned they would. Now, all I need to do is get a hold of the doctor. My orthopedist put in the order. That went well. Shout out to Fondren Orthopedic Hospital. Every encounter I have had there has been highly professional and first-rate.

Now I need to get a hold of the invasive anesthesiologist. It took me three phone calls to track down the right number. I need a phone consultation first which has been scheduled for two days hence. That’s pretty good. Hopefully, I am two weeks away from another treatment. Let’s hope.

That encounter was far more successful than the one I had with MD Anderson, number one in impenetrability of communication with any care team.

I started with a request to my care team three days ago on My Chart. No answer. I just needed a prescription refilled.

I called the clinic and was sent to the triage nurse. The phone rang off the hook. No answer.

I called back.

I was told the triage nurses are at lunch. How can you have a triage person who isn’t there during clinic hours? The receptionist on the phone sent an email to my care team. I thought I had done that. Maybe they will listen to her. I rechecked My Chart. No response.

Then there’s an email from Express Scripts, the pharmacy for us retirees. Could that be my refill?

But, as you may know, they only identify the first letter of any drug on the list. I thought maybe that was the order for my refill, but no one from Anderson had called to confirm that the order had been placed and if it was, Express Scripts is the wrong pharmacy for this prescription.

I left another message at Anderson. Still waiting. Finally, about four days out I got a message on My Chart about the refill.

Here’s the gist: “Done.”

I called Express Scripts before I got the My Chart note. After going through many menus with the AI bot, she told me my prescription was submitted. I am not sure why none of the humans could have told me this, but there you go. Then I got the My Chart note. “Done.”

My guess is that the message was received and the prescription filled, but no one told me. This is a symptom of the younger generation who believe when they do a task requested of them, the job is done. It’s not. The requestor needs to know the job was done. Close the loop.

Then I had another battle today.

A clinic on whose board I sit has decided that its zoom meetings were to go. The zoom subscription was too pricey and using Microsoft Teams for our tele-meetings would be less costly as it is free.

If you can use it.

I tried loading the app and the associated software using the instructions I was given. Forget about it. After much fooling around I came to learn that Teams will not work with a Mac using OS11 or lower. My laptop is 11. My big boy is 10. Finally, after much fiddling, I got it on my iPhone. The leadership of the clinic had made a sudden decision to convert its major means of meeting without confirming that it might or might not work for all participants. My guess is that many will not be able to log on to the meeting at 4 PM. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know. Of course, how would I know if they can’t log into the meeting.

I am sorry. I was taught better than this. I closed the loop when I was asked to get something done. I did the research to make sure my solution to a problem would actually work.

I fear this is the character of work today. Just say for me, I am glad to be retired. I don’t know how anything gets done.  If it does…

Or maybe I’m just old.

2 thoughts on “Close The Loop”

  1. Lenny, let’s face it: if Life is 100 yards, we are probably near the ten yard line and “goal to goal.” But, hope springs eternal in my heart that we will make it to our 90s with our minds intact.
    Your frustration with technology and getting what you need from medicine is a common suffering. The best care that I still receive comes from the diminishing group of small private practices. Otherwise, the current electronic medical record system and responses needs significant improvement. Otherwise, I may seek a Native American shaman (shawoman).

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