The Cost of Efficiency

I recently learned about a local gynecologic oncologist that kept his patients waiting, sometimes for hours.

Doctors’ offices like this are common. They schedule their appointments for efficiency, in case there are cancelations. But when everyone shows up on time (or early) for their appointments, the patients suffer, as the office and the Dr. try to efficiently move the patients through the assembly line.

This doctor, however, had an uncommon reputation. Instead of his patients complaining about the wait, they celebrated it. Because they know he was caring for another patient.

Holding her hand, answering her husband’s questions, listening to the fears and the concerns as the couples and families he treated struggled to understand the news he was sharing. He was also there, celebrating with his patients, encouraging them and cheering them on.

The patients of Dr. Cardosi — and other doctors like him — know what it means to be cared for. They don’t feel like another patient, being herded through the clinic door, only to sit inside and wait for what seems like an eternity to be seen by the busy, frazzled doctor, looking at charts, talking in brusque tones to the tolerant nurses. I am sure these doctors didn’t  set out to be too busy to care.

But that’s the reality of being efficient.

Efficiency is necessary to be profitable. It’s essential for the bottom line.

But caring — that is what truly matters.

I know how it feels to need to be efficient. Looking at the clock, knowing that time is running out before a deadline, while I sit, trying to be patient with a client who needs me, because I truly care. And, when the client knows I care, and appreciates the fact that I am taking my time, I feel more inclined to give them the time that they need.

What we need to realize, as customers and clients who want to be cared for, is that the caring comes at a cost. And the best way to ensure that we can continue to be cared for, is to celebrate the professionals who care.

If we want more caring, we must accept that it comes at a cost. There’s no possible way for caring deeply for another human being to be fast and efficient.

But, we still need more caring, all the way around.


Also published on Medium.

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