Your doctor is in, but could be running way behind

Oct 3, 2023, 1:49 PM

doctor behind caseload...

Filemon Mordeno, 84, gets his weight taken by Dr. Lim during a routine checkup April 11, 2005 (Photo by Marvi Lacar/Getty Images)

(Photo by Marvi Lacar/Getty Images)

A Tukwila resident says a change in Kaiser Permanente’s practices means it’s been nearly impossible to see her doctor, and her doctor agrees.

Bethany Taylor said she works the day shift Monday through Friday at a high-volume call center. She said in her last two doctor’s appointments, which were scheduled way in advance, the doctor was over an hour late and she had to leave without being seen.

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“Kaiser’s policies changed recently and have really been impacting my ability to get care,” Taylor said. “They’ve made it so the doctor’s appointments are scheduled more closely together. And so if the doctor is running over, he doesn’t have any buffer time to try and get back on schedule.”

She tried to complete an online doctor visit, but “a couple of months ago, he told me that Kaiser had changed the amount of time that doctors are given to respond to messages and read them. So he wasn’t able to support me in that way, either.”

Taylor said when someone does respond, it’s usually medical staff and the information is conflicting.

“Some of the office staff don’t usually have the right information, or they don’t read the message thoroughly,” she said. “So they don’t respond to it correctly. I usually have to ask over and over for them to send the message to the doctor and say that I don’t mind waiting extra days.”

Because she’s missed two appointments in a row, Taylor said that she’s suffering and it’s a big deal when she doesn’t get to see her doctor.

Last month, she reached out to Kaiser and, as of our most recent conversation, has not heard back.

“I really want Kaiser to start considering the needs of the patients and doctors. That’s what this is all supposed to be about,” Taylor said. “And they’ve turned it into this fast-paced assembly line where people don’t actually get the care they need. And it’s not fair to the doctors who are put under too much stress, it’s not fair to the patients who aren’t getting what they need.”

KIRO Newsradio reached out to Kaiser Permanente and a spokesperson responded with the following statement:

“Across the country the health care industry has struggled to rebound from the lasting effects of the pandemic, including staffing challenges that have been made worse by the backlog in care and increase in demand. While we have weathered this storm better than most, Kaiser Permanente has not been immune to these national challenges. Kaiser Permanente has expanded the many ways we provide care, including in-person appointments, phone, video, email, and online chat. We’re also working to increase our staffing of clinician and care team members and balance the extraordinary demand for secure patient messaging. Our priority is to provide the highest quality care when and where it works for our members and when we don’t, we want to work to correct that experience.”

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Your doctor is in, but could be running way behind