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Automated telephone menus followedElevator-music by musical Pablum are making people sick. I’ll tell you why.

I’ve been spending the last few weeks trying to keep my health maintenance on schedule, and it has been time-consuming. I have to find a new doctor, dentist, and optometrist because I am new to the city. Finding a doctor was the hardest part because the government has reinvented the health care system so that it has become less of a system and more of an obstacle course.  There are lots of drop-in clinics but very few family doctors taking new patients.

I tried to use the online system that is supposed to tell you which doctors are taking new patients, but frankly it doesn’t work.  I phoned four on their list but they either were not taking new patients at all or they only wanted patients with specific health issues.  One saw only the homeless and indigent within walking distance of her clinic.  Another only saw patients with COPD, lung diseases, and obesity.  She told me that I was “basically healthy” and thus did not need her.

All this phoning around involved quite a lot of intestinal fortitude in order to tolerate the automated menus and the inevitable elevator music. For the record, telephone message people, elevator music is not soothing, especially when it is interrupted by recorded messages spoken in a condescending tone.

Thankfully, I have found a doctor, and he is only a forty minute drive away. I generally only see my doctor once a year, so that is not as terrible as it sounds. Even so, it’s not like having a doctor in my neighbourhood who knows me and my family. Sigh. I guess those days are gone forever.

I had my meet-and-greet appointment in which the doctor and I decided if we wanted one another; by the way, when did that become a thing?  He then scheduled me for my annual blood tests and bi-annual mammogram.  It has taken me a little while and a lot of Googling to find the nearest places to go for these things. And, of course, I have had to schedule appointments and listen to more elevator music in the process.

I couldn’t remember when I last had a dental checkup or eye exam, so I phoned my insurance company to see when I could get coverage again.  More elevator music. I still haven’t booked those appointments because I honestly can’t bear the thought of listening to yet another automated menu and more elevator music.

I wonder if the medical offices realize that the system that makes their lives easier may actually be deterring people from making medical appointments. Someone should research this.  It may have huge implications for the health of the nation. The paper’s title could be something like: ‘Screening for patient suitability: Automated menus and elevator music as an indicator of patients’ patience.’ Everyone who fails the menu-and-elevator-music test just goes to the emergency ward at the hospital. Either that or they hope they get better on their own. Yes, elevator music may actually be making people sick. Literally.


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