By Howard J. Bennett, M.D.
Now that the Internet is taking over the planet, it’s just a matter of time before medical practices all have their own personal web sites. To give you an idea of what you should expect from a doctor’s web site, we have prepared the following.
Welcome to Uptown Pediatrics, PC
• Appointments On-Line
• Home Care
• Electronic Waiting Room
• Night Call/Chat Room
• House Calls
• Paying Your Bill
• For Prospective Patients
• Hot Links
Tired of busy signals that go on for hours and receptionists that instantly put you on hold? Why not make your next appointment on-line? Simply click on the above heading and our office schedule will be downloaded onto your computer. By following the on-screen instructions you can easily make your own appointment with one of our doctors. Select “S” for a sick visit, “PE” for a routine checkup, or “H” if you’re a hypochondriac.
Does your child have a pea stuck up his nose or some other emergency? If so, click on the above heading and our emergency monitoring program will link your computer to the closest Emergency Medical Unit in your area. If you purchased the Home Foreign Body Option when joining our practice, an EM tech can show you how to remove the object with an accessory attached to your computer’s mouse while you wait for the ambulance to arrive. For other emergencies, detailed on-screen instructions will enable you to keep your children stable until the EM team shows up. Our instructions are available in all modern languages and over thirty dialects including Pennsylvania Dutch, Cajun, and New England Drawl.
Do you think that doctors make way too much money? Do you think that you could do just as good a job if you had access to their fancy medical books? By clicking on the above heading you will have access to our extensive diagnostic library. Type in your past medical history, current symptoms, and whether your child eats any vegetables, and a list of possible diagnoses and treatment options will be downloaded onto your screen.
If you have a rash, you can review hundreds of icky photos and try to match your condition with one of the pictures. Of course, if your diagnostic journey gets complicated, simply click on the appointment heading and schedule a visit with one of our overpaid doctors. (We promise that choosing this option will not increase your waiting time in the office.)
Electronic Waiting Room
Despite attempts to keep our on-line services efficient, there will be occasions when heavy traffic slows things down. To make this wait as pleasant as possible, we’ve created an electronic waiting room. All the magazines that you’ve come to rely on in the office are now available through our web site. You’ll find Time magazines from the 1960s, Newsweeks from the Carter years, and a complete set of National Geographic. Click on the above heading to see these classic periodicals and more.
Night Call/Chat Room
Need help at night? Want to talk with other parents who are up having the same problem you are? Our web site offers an alternative to the traditional night-call system where you end up speaking with a groggy MD who can barely remember why he went into medicine, let alone figure out what’s making one of your kids vomit at 3 o’clock in the morning. In our system, you’ll be linked to a room where you can not only “talk” with one of our doctors, but you can also eavesdrop on the advice the doctor is giving to other patients. By holding down a special key, you can interrupt the doctor and add your own opinion about what the right course of action should be. In order to protect your privacy, each patient picks a code name such as Strepman, Pinkeye, etc. Also, since many patients have told us they tire of what the doctor has to say after a few minutes, you can leave the main program and go to a separate chat room that’s for patients only. This room is not monitored, so you can make as many derogatory remarks about our doctors as you’d like.
It goes without saying that parking needs will become obsolete as more and more medicine is practiced on-line. In the meantime, however, many of you will still need to come to the office when you’re sick. To help you find a space, we are linked with a satellite tracking system. This hi-tech system will help you find a parking space within a five-mile radius of our office.
If it was good enough for Marcus Welby, it’s good enough for us! After a number of requests from patients, we will soon be offering a House Call Option on our web site. This service will begin once we install video conferencing on our home page. Admittedly, it may be a little hard to feel someone’s belly on-line, and it will be years before our Home Throat Culture Kits are approved by the FDA. Despite a few such limitations, however, we’ll be able to evaluate most of your organs by the time our new system is up and running.
Paying Your Bill
Now that a lot of banks are on-line, it’s only natural that doctors would follow suit. To pay your outstanding bill, just click on the above heading. Within seconds (or minutes depending on the size of your balance), your statement will be downloaded for review. On-screen prompts will guide you so you can authorize our payment program to access to your credit cards, bank account, retirement fund, or your children’s piggy banks. If you feel faint after seeing your bill, click on the Night Call heading and one of our doctors will help you with your grief reaction.
For Prospective Patients
Most doctors try to impress patients by hanging their diplomas on the wall. While this approach may have worked in the past, it will clearly fall short in the new millennium. Our site is loaded with Quick Time movies on all of our doctors. You can review their early, middle or later years, attend their medical school graduations, or watch them do their first abdominal exam. By clicking on the above heading, you can even take a virtual tour of the office. This tour allows you to see all aspects of office function, from patient encounters to practical jokes the doctors play on each other in between appointments. Caution: the tour contains information that may not be suitable for all viewers.
Spend some time at the medical edition of Web Court, which shows Quick Time movies of actual malpractice litigation 24 hours a day (www.yourassisgrass.com).
Would you like to know if your proctologist cheated on any of his high school science exams? Check him out at http://www.gotcha.org.
Ever wonder if your pharmacy is ripping you off when you fork over $150 for a ten-day supply of antibiotics? You can find out the wholesale cost of every prescription drug at http://www.what’llitcostme.com.
© 2012 Howard J. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.
(First published in Stitches, The Journal of Medical Humor February 1998.)
For more articles and other information,
please visit Dr. B’s website at http://www.howardjbennett.com