Thursday, August 26, 2010

Doctors Who Do It Right

You know the drill when you go to the doctor these days, right? Spend 15-30 minutes in the waiting room, then a nurse or nurse practitioner finally takes your vitals, etc., asks lots of questions, and eventually--if you're lucky--you get to see the real MD for what, 5 minutes tops?

Well, how about this experience: When I lived in Bethesda, MD a few years ago, we were on a ho hum health care plan--a preferred provider network--so I had to choose an internal medicine physician from some list on the internet, selecting a random name from the relatively short list of "accepted" physicians in our area. With no other criteria to use, I opted for a doctor who had an office right on my commute route into work.

When I arrived, I checked in with a secretary that the doctor shared with a group of podiatrists. Five minutes later, the doctor--yes, "the" doctor--walked into the waiting room and called my name, then invited me into his office where he sat down at his desk and invited me to sit down opposite him. He then opened with, "So, what's up?" or some similar question, and then spent 15-20 minutes just talking about my overall health and any concerns I was having.

After hearing that, he took me into a separate exam room, where he--yep, the doctor himself--took my pulse, measured my blood pressure, and then took blood samples. After about 30 minutes, he sent me on my way, and get this: he did the same thing every time I visited.

At one point, I said to him point blank: "You know, you could probably make a lot more money going the usual physician route and using nurses/nurse practitioners and spending as little time as possible with each patient." I loved his reply: "I know, but honestly, I like to talk and, as my patient, you have to listen to me, so I prefer it this way" (or words to that effect).

Best doctor I've ever had. Never pretended to have all the answers, but was always genuinely concerned and interested in my well being. Asked lots of questions. Listened. Gave me multiple treatment options and then let me decide with the benefit of having heard all the pros and cons.

Too bad that such an experience has become so rare in U.S. health care these days. The doctor? William Condrell, MD. I'd recommend him to anybody.