Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Whew, I thought this was us

I received this email, and I first thought it was a complaint about us. But no, it was about another hospital in town, and the writer was drawing a contrast with our place! We continue to do our mystery shopper program to learn directly about these kinds of service glitches. I am not claiming perfection at our place, but we keep trying to do better and better.

In September, we were very pleased to hold a teleconference explaining our mystery shopper methodology as part of helping 14 hospitals around the country who had requested information after reading the June Boston Globe story. None were from Boston.

Upon driving up to the ambulatory clinic area we encountered heavy traffic, which required 4 Boston PD officers to direct traffic. On pulling into the ambulatory entrance valet parking area, we were told by the valet attendant to move on as the valet parking was full. He did not volunteer an alternative, but when I asked him I was directed to go to the parking structure [a short drive away]. So, I dropped my family member patient off (as she had been instructed to arrive 15 minutes prior to her appointment time, and it was exactly that time) and proceeded to the garage. However, when I reached there, the entrance to the garage was blocked off with a barrier and a sign saying that the lot was full. There was no mention of where patients should go. Had I been a patient from out of the area, I have no idea where I would have parked.

Once I did park and get into the hospital, I had trouble finding the right clinic, and a clinic front desk staff member who I asked had no idea either, offering only the explanation "I just started working here 3 days ago and so don't know these things yet."

On finally reaching the right clinic, I found my family member patient still in the waiting room. She had not been told by the front desk that the doctor was running behind. However, we learned from other patients who had been waiting for up to an hour and a half that she was running behind and that it is possible to give the front desk staff a cell phone number and to leave to get some lunch. We were not offered this option, but when we went to the front desk to ask, we were allowed to do this. On coming back, we still had to wait, and were finally called in at 1PM (for an appointment time that was for 11:00AM!)


Anonymous said...

I don't get it. What is your point if this was not BIDMC?

Anonymous said...

Too bad this showed up after your speech on process improvement in academic centers. Here is one process clearly in need of improvement. I think academic center administrators also fail to appreciate the fright involved on the part of patients who often have life threatening illnesses for which they have traveled a long distance to an academic center, only to face this poor treatment before they even see the doctor. Does not instill confidence in the institution.

Anonymous said...

Patient care doesn't begin at the doctor's door. It's the med tech, the front desk staff, the security in the lobby -- AND THE PARKING!

Many people only come to Boston for a ball game or medical care. They care about the parking for both.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:54am
I think Paul is showing some of the problems that can and are identified by the mystery shoppers/patients. This incident happened in one of the Boston hospitals. Did the CEO of that hosp learn about it before our Paul heard about it? What is his point? Bev md has it right in saying that excellent patient care includes everything from parking to directions to the doctor. And the BIDMC mystery patients are helping eradicate these sorts of service problems.

Anonymous said...

In Phoenix, many hospitals have little carts that take people from the ends of parking lots to the door--some people are sick, lost, enfeebled or just plain would like some pampering and welcoming! I was going to say the same thing as the poster above--making people wait hours to start dreaded procedures is cruel! Get it done!

Lyss said...

Is the hospital in question Boston Medical Center?

I've never personally had a problem with the valet service when visiting a doc there.

I have survived a near-revolt by the other patients in that doctor's waiting area, mostly due to the fact that the long process and glacial wait time in Central Registration made them late for their appointments. They crowded around the reception desk in the doc's office and began shouting at the poor reception staff. (I was not part of the uprising- luckily, I arrived 35 minutes early and had time on my side while enduring the glacial wait to be registered.) And you have to go through the Central Registration process EVERY time time you visit a doc there.

Unknown said...

We very recently had an unplanned stay at Brigham & Women's that matched this description closely. If this wasn't the Brigham, then there are at least two Boston hospitals with customer service problems.

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling at the AMC's the perception from hospital administration is the patients are "lucky" to be here (doesn't matter which one here is).

Until they change that perception, the "hurry up and wait" approach will continue.