Why is Mediocrity Accepted in the Doctor's Office?
This past weekend I went to a chain restaurant I have not been to in years. No I am not going to name the restaurant but let’s just say they always have commercials promoting their feasts. I caved in to their advertising despite the fact that every time I have eaten at this particular establishment, it has been disappointing at best. I thought that perhaps the passage of time could have somehow changed things. I was wrong. It was a dismal experience from start to finish. We had to wait a long time to be seated even though it was not lunch or dinner time. We told our waitress that we were in a slight hurry so we could make it to our movie, and our food took well over a half an hour. We thought that maybe our waitress had left for the day. When the food arrived, lukewarm and wilted, I almost felt sorry for it. We overheard at least two patrons who were either displeased with their food or were unhappy about the long wait.
Looking around, the restaurant was packed. Not one table was empty. And I wondered, why is this place being rewarded for its mediocrity? The service and food were of poor quality. And it wasn’t that inexpensive. We could have found a much better meal at the same price or less at a non-chain restaurant and I wish we had.
I think the answer lies in our willingness to accept or even reward poor quality because of popularity. Just because a product is “popular” doesn’t mean it is good.
Take a look at the delivery of our health care for example. My son and I go to the same neurology hospital. I go for my Multiple Sclerosis and he goes for his autism. This particular hospital is always packed full of patients no matter what time of day you schedule an appointment. That is, if you can get an appointment. My son had to wait six months to see a neurologist. I was a tad more fortunate. I got in to see my neurologist in three months. If you experience problems such as new symptoms or side effects from your medication you are supposed to call. The only problem is that there is no live person to take your call. When I had an urgent question about my son’s medication I called and waited fifteen minutes on hold only to be transferred to a voicemail system where I was promised that someone would call back in 24-48 hours. I did receive a phone call back in a day or so and the person could not answer my questions and told me to wait to speak with the doctor. On the day of my son’s appointment, days way from my original phone call, I explained to his doctor that this delay was unacceptable. Her response was that we could not expect people to answer phones. This was the breaking point where I decided we needed to change doctors.
We had been putting up with this sort of nonsense for several years from this particular hospital. Why? Because this hospital and the doctors are pretty much the only game in town. We were told that there are not many neurologists in the area and so they are very popular and have tons of patients. But it doesn’t make them good. And their popularity doesn’t excuse poor service.
There is a dangerous misconception in our culture that popular means good. So not only is mediocrity accepted, it is also rewarded. It explains everything from why we choose to eat at crowded over rated restaurants to why we keep going back to medical providers who do not provide adequate care. We have grown so accustomed to the mediocre; we think either we don’t deserve any better or that there is no better to be found.
It was with some glee that I found that Google is no longer accepting mediocrity. Have you ever noticed that when you do a search on Google, let’s say for a health related term, you get a bunch of irrelevant sites on the front page? Some of the sites will have the term you used as a top banner and then maybe a bunch of ads. Or else you get the content mill sites…the ones which push junk. Not sure what a content mill is? Jennifer Williamson, a freelance writer and blogger explains how to spot a content mill.
As a patient I don’t want to see junk. I want real help and accurate information. I don’t have time to wade through meaningless sites full of spam or fluff content full of search engine words. The Wallstreet Journal has written that google is revamping to fight cheaters, those companies who use tricks to get their Google rankings up as opposed to creating quality content. It is hoped that by changing the algorithm that Google will be able to “weed out ‘low-quality’ sites that offer users little value.” The jig is up for spammers and low value sites that flood the Internet with free content from unreliable sources.
As a freelance writer, I applaud Google's effort to encourage quality over quantity when it comes to content. I would like to think that there are some ethics and standards when it comes to publishing on-line and especially about health related topics. Does the term “writer” actually mean anything these days? Last April, a prophetic post was written on this topic where it was advised,
“The future, I suspect, is not to be a content mill, in the pejorative sense of the word. Aim for quality.”
Let’s hope that the new changes will encourage companies to adopt this goal.
Let’s not accept mediocrity. We should expect more whether it is from the restaurants you go to, your doctor, or even the on-line health sites you visit.
Demand and expect quality. You deserve no less.