THE BLOG
05/02/2013 01:17 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2013

Accessibility to Medical Professionals

Why can't you text your doctor if you just have one quick question?

I've often found myself wondering if something I'm feeling is normal, if it's okay for me to take my OTC allergy pills more than once per day, if I should use one brand of birth control over another, if the dry patch on my arm is still eczema or if it looks like something more serious, if those tremors I felt in my leg were a seizure or just a panic attack, etc. Who better to ask than my doctor? She knows my medical history and would be able to give me a personalized answer based on that history -- or at least a better one than I would get from Googling my symptoms. (Despite what I read, I'm pretty sure I won't get a brain tumor from taking more than one One-A-Day Vitamin.)

But why, I wonder, do I have to jump through hoops to get a short answer to a medical question or two? I have to call her office, schedule an appointment for months away, and then fork over a $20 co-pay just to ask her two things. By that time, they might not be relevant anymore. I may have forgotten what I was going to ask (I try to make lists, but that doesn't always work). She may not actually even have an answer! As a result, I've resolved to pretty much stop going to the doctor. It's just getting too hard.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is my physical therapist. Now, I know this is a unique situation -- he's not a doctor, and he runs all aspects of his business himself. I can text him whenever I need to schedule an appointment or ask a question, and I always get a near-immediate response. I've asked him if a pulled muscle needs heat or ice. I've asked him if he thinks I'm ready to try running again, and if I should run on concrete or grass. I've asked him what he knows about a certain brand of shoes. I've even asked him for his opinion when my doctor wants me to undergo a certain procedure or test.

This is an important kind of accessibility that is severely lacking in the medical world. My doctor should be as accessible to me as her front office is. She should be as accessible as a designer is to his clients, as owners are to their dogs, as a manager is to her employees. And I don't think this reaction is just because I'm disabled -- I truly think that lack of easy access is a problem that almost every American has with their medical providers.

While we're on the subject, I was also recently wondering why we can't text 911 in an emergency, but found out that that will soon be a possibility. Let's think about this: We can text 911 for everything from a downed power line to an intruder in the house, but we still can't reach our doctors for non-emergency medical assistance with anything resembling ease. That needs to change.

For more by Lia Seth, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.

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