This was a classic case of staff-centered care.

“Arrive 15 minutes early for your appointment,” the receptionist at my doctor’s office told me over the phone. “We have a new record system, so there’s some paperwork to fill out.”

Well, finally, I thought. Everything in the office was paper-based, and my own chart had mushroomed into a sheaf of folders bound together with a rubber band. I would be happy to see a laptop in the exam room instead of that dog-eared monster.

I did as I was told, arriving at 7:45 for my 8 a.m. appointment, the first one of the day. The receptionist handed me a clipboard with seven forms: patient registration, medical history, family history, financial responsibility, HIPAA consent, care consent and contact preferences. Frequently redundant, all requiring my name, birth date, signature and today's date. Fifteen sheets of paper that a staff member, using Microsoft Word for half an hour, could have reduced to a single document and emailed to me when I made the appointment.

I got to work. Then I waited.

As the receptionist leafed through the forms between phone calls and checking in patients, I watched the clock tick past 8, then 8:15, then 8:20. I mentally timed the appointment: blood pressure, weight, gown, wait for physician, greeting, the checkup itself, refills. Was there time to ask my two questions or should I just ask one and leave the other for WebMD? I had a 9 a.m. meeting at work.

At 8:37, I lost my patience and told the receptionist I was leaving. “Next time, you won’t have to fill out any paperwork,” she said. But there won’t be a next time, not at that office.

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