Article Date: 2/1/2008

When the Right Answer is Wrong

When the Right Answer is Wrong

Can you believe patients, staff and vendors when they become "yes men"?


You have probably asked one of the following questions in your practice. To a job candidate: "Do you consider yourself a people person?" To a patient: "Do your contact lenses feel comfortable?" To a vendor: "Can I connect this piece of equipment to my electronic medical records (EMR) system?"

And I would hazard to guess that you received one of the following three answers to your question: "yes," "yes" or "yes." I would further guess that the "yes" answer was incorrect or at the very least, incomplete.

What happened?

"Yes" is the easy, friendly answer. Few would respond, "Yeah, I'm a people person, except around patients. They seem so rude and ignorant. I can't stand working with them." Or, "Yes, this equipment is easy to connect to your EMR system, provided you have an advanced engineering degree from Stanford."

The challenge becomes, how do you get your question answered completely in terms that make sense to your practice?

One way is to pose the question as a scenario that reflects your specific needs. To the patient, you might ask, "At what time of the day are your contact lenses most uncomfortable?" To the job candidate, you may say, "Let me pose the following scenario. You're about to go on lunch break when an insurance company calls to verify patient information. As you look up the information, a patient leans over the front desk, clears his throat and announces that you're making him late for work because he has yet to be seen for his appointment. How would you handle this situation?"

Now for the answer

The response will tell you whether the candidate really is your kind of people person. In many cases, it will provide the information you need to make a snap decision about the candidate's abilities, especially if she were to respond, "I'd tell that guy to sit down, shut up and wait his turn."

Instead of asking whether you can connect a piece of equipment to your EMR, ask the vendor representative how to move information from the equipment into your EMR system. If the equipment and system are electronically compatible, make sure the vendor provides help-desk services. But, don't ask whether the vendor provides help-desk services because inevitably, the answer is "yes."

By using scenarios based on the specific qualities of your practice, you make the world a better place by ridding it of "yes men." OM

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2008