Wednesday, December 10, 2014

TEN bits of Advice to the Healthcare industry

Between my personal health and my professional resume, I have been around the healthcare field for a long time. I've noticed things come and go over the years but I have a running list of thoughts that would improve anyone's experience. Here are some of these suggestions:

1. Be a patient for a day. You have no clue what the other side is like until you've traversed it yourself. And gotten lost in corridors. Or had a technician get mad at you for a provider putting in orders wrong. Being a patient can be one of the most dehumanizing experiences. It's not always but it is something we should always remember when working in the healthcare field. And don't presume to know my body better than me after five minutes with me. This is a partnership, not a dictatorship. 

2. Don't put flavor in contrast fluid. It does nothing to help the experience of sucking down bottles of that crap for over two hours. A straw would be nice too. 

3. ALWAYS. ALWAYS. ALWAYS serve good coffee. Life is too short for the patients, doctors, or nurses to be served terrible coffee. Everyone will be happier. Happier people = happier organization. This will always start with good coffee. 

4. If you have to make a patient wait in a clinic for two hours for a procedure, consider decorating with recliners instead of hard chairs. I can Squeeze a nap in while I wait or put my feet up when I'm hurting. Your patients will appreciate the comfort when they are stuck in the dreaded waiting place. 

5. For God's sake--I know healthcare is expensive, but don't try to save a few pennies by turning off the heat. Or at least tell us to bring gloves and a blanket. These places are like waiting in an icebox. Turn on the heat in winter and the AC in summer. Add it to my bill. 

6. Serve good food. People go to hospitals to get well. If we are serving terrible, fake food, that's never going to happen. You can make yummy food that doesn't look like cardboard. And then people will be spending more of their money on your food instead of fast food thereby reducing waste at the cafeteria. 

7. Make everyone in the hospital take a customer service class. And I mean everyone. YOUR attitude makes a huge difference in how I am handling my health. 

8. Provide integrative medicine. And teach your providers that thugs like acupuncture, massage, chiropractic are not all "woo-woo" techniques. They work. And they can make me a better patient if they are included as a part of my care plan. 

9. I'm all for patients that are proactive and engaged and informed in their treatment--but that's not a pass for patients to do a providers job. It's YOUR job to make a patients healthcare experience a good one. And it's your job to make it run smoothly from referral to diagnostics to treatment. Don't twle I'm responsible for doing your job. 

10. Finally, it's okay if patients cry. You don't have to send them off to mental health or chalk up every symptom to their emotional state. Dealing with your health is scary. Think how you would feel in their shoes and act accordingly. Compassion goes a long way in this business and we will remember you far longer for your smile and understanding than we will for your credentials or education.