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Medical Records


A broken process is especially frustrating to an improvement professional.

The experience I describe in this post is probably all too common. Has it happened to you? A better question is, why does it ever happen?

Time for an annual physical exam

I am blessed with good health, so the only time I typically see my GP is for an annual physical.  The local medium-size physician practice sends me an automated reminder, which I had dutifully entered into my calendar the year before. Oops, a conflict comes up, and I have to reschedule. 

I call for a new appointment; the scheduler tells me that my doctor started is own practice months ago.  They ask: Would I like to see another physician?  ME: No, what is the new contact information?

My thoughts: Why wasn’t I notified when my doctor left months ago? If I had come in on my scheduled day and time, was another doctor even available to see me?  Is my old doctor’s new practice already full and not taking new patients?   Now I have to get all of my medical records transferred and fill out the endless pages of forms at the new location. Of course, there will be many problems as the doctor sets up new processes and trains staff for his private practice.

After some effort to get through to a live person at the new practice, I am accepted as a new patient and given a login to their patient portal to fill out the forms.  I contact the old practice, and they agree to release my records to my doctor electronically.  Both offices warned me that the transfer does not always happen the first time.

Days later …

Days later, at my annual exam, the doctor confirms that my records did not come through; would I call the old practice again?

Both practices know this is an on-going problem.

My thoughts: Both practices know this is an on-going problem.  I have already given the authorization to transfer my records, so why am I the one that has to call back?

I call the old practice a second time, and the medical records staff says that my files are released, and there is nothing else she can do, although she does try clicking the release button again.  She concludes by saying that I should confirm with the new practice that they can see them now.

The customer, me, becomes the ping-pong ball trying to get a broken process to work with enough calls and pleas for assistance.

As requested, I call the new practice back, and they tell me that only the doctor can open your files and see if the records have transferred, but he is swamped.  I say OK fine, but I need confirmation that the documents are accessible.  The attendant says that he is double-booked today, and we don’t know when he can check.  I politely insist that someone call me back whenever the doctor opens my files and let me know.

I receive a call back from the new practice:  Bad news, my records did not transfer.  I ask if they can contact the old practice and work out the problem between them. Oh, we can’t do that.  I ask what else I can do?  They tell me: We don’t know; this is has been an on-going problem for many of our patients. I suggest calling tech support because your practices are paying for the software license.  My idea gets ignored, and they suggest that I drive over to the old practice and ask for a printed copy of all my records and bring them back so we can scan them in.  Unbelievable!

Please don’t make your customers a victim!
Let me help you with your broken processes.

Proven History - Blended Approach - Superior Results


The initiator of and Deployment Champion for Chevron's Lean Sigma process improvement program for 14 years. Started as a bottom-up initiative, Lean Sigma eventually becoming a corporate-wide program with several hundred teams generating annual verified financial benefits of over 1 billion dollars.