The state of American healthcare is declining as it gets more and more "automated." It used to be that the doctor would come to your house and have coffee with your family after seeing you, maybe even stay for dinner. Then he'd get in his carriage, start up his horse, and head back to his office in Bedford Falls. Nowadays, before trekking to the doctor's office, you need to make three cups of coffee and eat a full meal at your own house just to have the energy required to sit through the bureaucratic process of giving a doctor permission to even look you in the eye.

Doctor takes vitals at a drive-thru window

We've gone a long way from the house call doctor who had two hours of free time for one patient, to the doctor who would see you in his office for up to an hour, to the doctor who would see you for half an hour, to the doctor who would see you for 15 minutes, to the nurse practitioner who sees you for 5 minutes provided you sit quietly for 3 hours in the waiting room after filling out a library of forms.

Oh yes, have we gotten automated. No personable appointments anymore.

It used to be that the doctor took your vital signs in the exam room; now the nurse does it and sends you back out into the waiting room, only to be called back an hour later to wait another 20 minutes in another exam room with a computer that's just there for decoration.

Finally, the head nurse comes in to see you because the doctor is busy having his picture taken for the wall in the waiting room. The "nurse practitioner," as they're now called, looks at the chart and asks questions at the same time. Maybe he or she will look up at you while handing you a prescription, maybe not. Perhaps you'll make eye contact as he or she walks out of the room, but don't expect it.

What could possibly be next? The Drive-Thru Checkup?

What if going to the doctor was like getting your car washed? You drive in and latch your tires on those rails and the conveyor pulls you into that tunnel. You roll down your window and stick your head and tongue out. A mechanical arm holding a tongue depressor extends to your face and you say "ahhh" into the squawk box. The nurse practitioner running the drive-thru asks if you'd like vitals with that and you say yes. You stick your arm out of the window and a blood pressure cuff drops down from above. After the mechanical arm extends a stethoscope into your car and checks your breathing. Then a thermometer is thrust into your ear. Finally you are weighed; the computer subtracts the weight of the car from the total weight to obtain your weight—for this reason it is wise to make sure there's nothing heavy in the trunk.

Now it's time to "see" the doctor or whatever staff member is on site that particular day. Maybe he'll come out on roller skates like the waitress at a 50's diner. Perhaps he'll be wearing a white apron, stained with blood instead of ketchup.

He'll come to your window holding a prescription pad, ready to take your order—er, your symptoms. You then pull up to the window with your insurance card.

No, wait, that would come first, wouldn't it? You'd present your insurance card and if it wasn't approved the conveyor belt wouldn't even start—not if you were bleeding from every artery.

And that's just the appointment process. Imagine what "urgent care" would be like… I'm guessing the line at the Tijuana border. And emergency treatment, well, we'd do away with that—don't want the conveyor belt jamming up.

Tell me this doesn't make sense.

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