Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare’

I wish they would invent a hospital disinfectant that smelled like fresh baked cookies.

If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me say this more than once. I am reminded of this notion every time I walk into a hospital, which has been too often as of late.  You see, six weeks ago my big sister had a brain hemorrhage, and I have been on this deeply emotional journey to understand how and why and when and what and what’s next and how I can make it better and why do I feel so helpless, and AAAAAAAGH!?!… But ultimately, I have had to come to grips with the fact that there are no solid answers – just clues and hopes and steps and progress. And love.

So when I walk into a hospital and the smell of sterility hits me, I am deeply aware of the paradox that the hospital smells void of daily life, and yet is filled with people whose daily lives have been completely disrupted. These people are not just numbers or filled hospital beds. These are mothers and daughters, brothers, uncles, best friends, grandmas, even children. Inevitably, my wheels start turning about the impact being in the hospital has on these peoples’ lives.  That the goal of the hospital should be to make the stay of each patient as comfortable as possible, to provide the best care possible, to make a difficult situation easier.

I don’t always find this to be true.

I think the doctors and staff certainly have the best interest of their patients (customers), and good customer service in mind. They do the best they can to make each patient and his or her family feel comfortable, cared for and OK. But ultimately, it’s the insurance companies that rule the roost. Which means the almighty dollar takes precedence above all. The goal for each patient is that they meet certain criteria that will move them to the next level of care, which is generally a lesser level of care.  Read: cheaper.  Patients are shuffled from one floor to the next. From one doctor to the next. From one facility to another.  I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “Will insurance even cover this? And for how long?” It always seems the ultimate question is: Who gets to do the billing?

At the highest levels, the patient ceases to exist.

So, all you customer service leaders out there, those of you who are setting the tone for your company, for your team, and ultimately for your customers, I challenge you. I challenge you as you go forward to remember your customers are not just a bottom line figure.  I beg you to keep the customer experience in mind, as you write your missions and values. Understand that your customers have a back story.  They want to be treated with dignity and respect.  And yes, ultimately, they simply want their issues resolved, whether it’s a product return or a fixed brain.

Most importantly, your customers have a name.  My sister is not Patient #555 in room 742 with Insurance ID ABC.  She is Anna Reyna-Gonzales.  And she deserves to smell fresh baked cookies.