Is a Doctor Just Customer Service?

All businesses that deal with customers are considered service industries. Professions such as legal and medical are also considered customer service in some way.

The question is: Are these professions just customer service? Is the customer always right?

Caution tape over a cell phone.

Examining the Relationship between Client Needs and Medical Care

A client saw me recently who had a wrist injury from breaking up a dog fight 6 months before. Since then she had pain with the left wrist when moving it in any direction. On an initial phone conversation, it seemed like dealing with the wrist would be the best option. 

But when the client came into the office, I found out that the person had injuries on the head previously, as well as a longstanding neck injury on the left side which required medical care for the last 10-20 years. Based on that story and the fact that the nervous system runs from the spine to the arms, I thought it would be best to deal with the head and neck problems before dealing with the wrist problem. 

The client was in initial agreement with this but later was dissatisfied that the wrist was not dealt with. She felt that her wrist pain had been neglected.

Putting the Needs of the Patient First: Balancing Customer Satisfaction and Professionalism in Medicine

From the client’s point of view, she had a wrist problem and did not think that dealing with the neck (even though it was part of the same nerve area) would be what would help her. From my medical point of view, if I did not take care of the neck and the nerves which supply the arms, then the likelihood that taking care of the wrist directly would help her was pretty slim in my medical viewpoint.

I do not know what happened to her as I have not had contact since then. There are two views to this story as there are to any interaction between two people. 

What would have been the best way to deal with this interaction? Should I have done what she requested and just treated the wrist even though I didn’t think it would help that much, or was my approach correct?  Apparently not, as ultimately the client is the customer and she was unhappy after the visit.

Concluding Thoughts on Customer Service in the Medical Field.

I try to learn from life so my approach going forward is going to change. I always try to understand what is going on with my patients in terms of what is causing their health issue. I come up with an idea of what is going on and discuss it with them.

In the future, if there are several options available, I will discuss each option individually, the pros and the cons before we decide on a plan of action. If the benefits/risks of each option are thoroughly discussed, then hopefully both the client and myself will be more content at the end of the visit.

That’s the plan, let’s see how it goes in the future.


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Dr. Richard Chen

To your health!

Dr. Richard Chen
Focused Wellness Author,
A New Way to Health: Wheel of Health
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