While attending an executive training at Stanford University, I woke up in the middle of the night with incredible stomach pain - something was seriously wrong. I went down to reception where a student on night watch was kind enough to rush me to the university hospital.
Waiving my credit card and insurance papers I stumbled into the emergency room where I rushed through the mandatory paperwork before seeing a doctor. The diagnosis of the attending physician was quick – and confirmed in radioscopy – gallstones. We discussed my options and I decided to have my gallbladder removed the same morning.
After my procedure, my doctor explained that the procedure went well. However, I was informed that the doctor-in-training had cut herself during stitching. My doctor went on to explain the consequences but left it to me to draw my own conclusions.
We’ll swipe your card and please sign this waiver
Within hours after my operation I was visited by two hospital administrators. The first was there to take payment off my credit card. The other administrator wanted me sign papers confirming I would not sue the hospital for the incident during the operation.
The doctor and the customer
The doctor did very well treating me as customer instead of a patient:
- He took time to explain my condition and made sure that I understood that I had options.
- Only after I made an informed decision – he reassured me that this was also his recommendation.
- He made arrangements before he spoke to me so things could move quickly when I made the “right” decision.
- Best of all, he ensured he was the attending physician during the procedure; this made me trust him even more!
After the incident he made sure I understood what had happened and what the consequences were, before inserting a dose of reality that made me understand the real “risks”.
The administrator and the customer
The administrators failed to make any effort to contact my insurance company, even though they had all my personal, insurance and credit card details. Instead, they were at my hospital bed with a credit card machine and paperwork – that in no way served me – but was all about covering the hospitals’ exposure.
Lack of information before, during and after the stay at the hospital, poor scheduling and planning and no visibility of next steps are all related to customers. These activities are not specific to any one patients’ ailment or procedure. Improving the customer aspects of the hospital experience enables medical facilities to improve the overall experience of patients.
Best in class
Stanford University hospital is ranked amongst the best medical facilities in the world. The use of modern techniques made for a quick hospital experience. I was in the hospital for roughly 36 hours and back in class the next day. Even though my gallbladder was removed over 10 years ago and I still have 2 vivid memories of the experience: the doctor who was very professional and still very human, and my credit card being swiped 2 hours after coming out of narcosis. I also still wonder what would have happened if I had refused to sign the waiver…