Where’s the Care in Healthcare?

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Here’s the latest in horrible customer service experiences:  a friend receives a letter from a recent mammogram with the result identified as “suspicious for cancer” and indicates the urgent need to call the doctor immediately to schedule a biopsy.  Doctor faxes orders immediately.  The patient then calls for the biopsy appointment with the same hospital. 

Guess what happens next?  Patient calls and gets an answering machine recording with this message:  “Leave your name, number, and we’ll call you back in 48 hours to schedule your appointment.  Don’t call back.  Calls are returned in the order received.”  WHAT?  48 hours to return a call?  AND THEN SCHEDULE?  How much would it cost for the hospital to hire someone to answer these calls and schedule the appointment – about $8 an hour?  One person fields all the calls the hospital to return calls and schedule biopsies?  COME ON.  What do you think is wrong with this picture?

Process, service, staffing, care, concern?  The word “care” seems conspicuously absent from this “healthcare” institution.  Oh – and even more importantly, one more thing is missing – LEADERSHIP.  I called the manager of this department to report the mishandling of my friend’s experience.  I have to leave A MESSAGE on this manager’s answering machine.  I never received a call back.

Service is a representation of leadership – again and again and again.  Why are we surprised when we ask to speak to the manager and we get this (lack of) response?  It reminds me when I used to teach school and would schedule conferences with the parents of the troubled students in my classroom.  I was seldom surprised when I met the parents of these troubled kids.  It was only a confirmation of what I saw in the classroom. 

We learn from the models we live (and work) with.  What example are you setting in your own workplace and in your own home?