Last week, I experienced an exceptional hospital, not as I usually do from the perspective of a vendor, but instead from the perspective of a patient (actually parent of a patient). I would say every vendor should do this from time to time, except I’d rather encourage you to stay healthy and out of the hospital as a patient. However, it is inevitable that we will all be patients at some point and then, the patient experience will matter to you, because it’s not about business anymore, it’s about humanness.
So on Wednesday of last week, my 11-month-old daughter was scheduled to have tubes put in her ears to help with her recurring ear infections. The hospital asked us to arrive an hour and a half before the surgery so I expected plenty of paperwork, long waiting times, and trying to keep my daughter calm and happy, which for those of you with little ones, you know how challenging this can be. What I didn’t expect was the extreme attention to detail to ensure we had a good experience from every single person who worked with us from the initial check-in all the way through post-op.
We were warmly greeted as soon as we walked in the door even though it was terribly early in the morning. Everyone seemed to be on point and ready to assist. We were shown where to check in and they had prepared for us by pre-filling our information, so they only needed a few signatures confirming everything was correct. They also asked if we needed any financial counsel or would like to apply for financial aid to help pay for the procedure. Thankfully we have good insurance so we declined but I thought it was a great measure for them to practice as standard procedure. Hopefully this will help patients better manage their healthcare expenses and stay out of financial trouble when getting the care they need.
After check-in, we moved to the waiting room, which was intentionally set up for children and parents with toys and play areas designated for different ages and interests. If we had to wait a long time, this was a good place to do it. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long at all. The nursing staff was incredibly punctual in calling us back to pre-op.
In pre-op we went through the normal weight/temperature/blood pressure checks which were handled with the utmost kindness and care for our little one. They even let her pick out a stuffed animal! A nurse explained the whole process and the doctor stopped by to make sure we didn’t have any questions. Shortly, it was time and they allowed me to go back to help her be prepped for surgery. Then I was led to post-op where my wife was waiting. Another kind nurse explained what would happen when the surgery was complete.
When they rolled our daughter in post-op, a team attended to her every need. When she woke from anesthesia, there was a smiling nurse (even though our daughter was screaming) to help her, give us recovery instructions, do one final check and discharge us. She even helped us gather our belongings and walked with us to the door.
And just like that, we were done.
I can truly say it was the most incredible hospital experience I have ever had. We were treated with the kind of compassion and empathy I would not expect from a team that probably does this with 50+ children a day. The hospital made what could have been a very difficult morning into something special.
I wonder how the billing experience will be? I don’t know yet. I do know, however, that this is where most hospitals struggle. In most stories I hear, the patient (or guardian) often ceases to be a person and starts being a number (or worse, a dollar sign) and the experience that the hospital invested so much time, effort, and money to create can turn sour. This shouldn’t be the case. Patient billing can be human and empathetic too. The patient just has to remain the focus, not the numbers. If that happens, the numbers will come.
Patient experience matters.