So, I’m driving to pick my daughter up at her friend’s house, a friend who lives nine miles away. I fire up the GPS on my T-Mobile; estimated drive time of seventeen minutes.
The route is mostly back roads, and as soon as I reach the backest of the back roads I am informed, “GPS signal lost.” After having my way with the recording, I continue to drive. And drive. And you know the rest. I head to places with higher elevations, find a signal, and am directed to roads that even I know have nothing to do with where I am headed. My route is again transferred to another, and so forth and so on.
I am talking to myself, and yelling at drivers who look like they know where they are going. Squirrels on the side of the road point at me, and double over in laughter—I hope they choke on their acorns. After an hour and two minutes, I arrive at the house, upon which my phone chirps, “You have arrived.” I started screaming epitaphs in front of the squirrels.
An hour and two minutes is four minutes longer than I spent the other day trying to schedule an appointment with a large east-coast health system. The person with whom I spoke the longest had a pulse equal to that of a hibernating bear and, had he been a household pet, he would have been put down purely for aesthetic reasons.
I find it helpful to trace everything back to a seminal point like just prior to when the random swirls of gases in the chartless universe got together and formed the earth; or not, depending on which side of the Darwin bed you sleep.
From the side on which I sleep, the seminal point for patient access can be traced to the phone. If the people manning your health system’s phones cannot meet the basic needs and solve the problems of its callers, very little else matters because the callers will call somebody else.
Hammers, like phones, are very evolved tools. They haven’t changed for years. And why would they change? Nails haven’t changed. Nails have been the same forever. Therefore a hammer’s necessary features were worked out long ago. A heavy metal head and a handle. All you need, and nothing you don’t. Phones are also very evolved tools. The primary difference between a hammer and a phone is that if you do not have capable people on both ends of the call, you would do just as well speaking to a hammer.