Dear healthcare executive,
I’ve been deeply embedded in your industry for much of the past few weeks as a customer. I’ve met some of the most caring people imaginable, and I’m sure many of them have angel wings tucked into those lab coats and scrubs. It’s been inspiring.
But while working my way through the cogs of the healthcare machine, I’ve developed real concerns about your ability to best serve patients. Over the past two quarters, Modern Healthcare has reported on health systems and companies looking to cut costs and ramp up industry consolidation. Since “bigger” frequently doesn’t mean “better” for the little guy—your customer—I have a few suggestions that shouldn’t break the bank.
- Upgrade the Wi-Fi in hospitals—and in the rooms, not just the common areas. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling isolated from family and the world while confined to a hospital bed.
- Find a better way to recognize the best employees. I heard about a mental health day at one hospital where the recognition for staff members was half-size protein bars. Protein bars? Half-size?
- Do a better job involving your customers in identifying the star performers in your organizations. The phone and paper satisfaction surveys that inevitably show up are rote and faceless. A patient might want to recognize a nurse who made their visit less scary, or an insurance customer service representative who went the extra mile. We need a way to identify those employees for you, so you can keep them—and it would be easier to do that in the moment at the point of service.
- Rethink the automated prompts offered to callers seeking to schedule or change an appointment, connect with a care team, check on a claim or, if such a miracle exists, talk with a pharmacist. Once someone hits the button identifying themselves as a member, patient or customer rather than a provider, it’s a quick descent into a hell that frequently involves hearing the same choices repeatedly before any progress materializes. Retool the prompts, and let them occasionally lead to real, live human beings on the other end of the line.
These are just a few suggestions, but here are some ways to come up with your own: Put on a gown and get in a bed. Sit in waiting rooms. Make that call to customer service. Talk to your employees and your customers. It’s eye-opening.