A Sign Doesn’t Deliver Great Service

A friend of mine recently shared a great story with me about her daughter’s recent emergency department visit. She had taken her daughter to the ED with complaints of severe stomach pain after having endoscopy.  She was taken to a room pretty quickly by a kind nurse. They introduced themself, and then left them to sit for over three hours.  Eventually, someone, who didn’t identify themselves, brought in a GI cocktail and said, “Here, drink this,” and then left before they could ask any questions including: “What is a GI cocktail?” “What does a GI cocktail do?” “Why do I need a GI cocktail?” Since she was not in the military or in a military hospital, she could rule out that the GI stood for Government Issued, but the rest remained a mystery.

Eventually a provider came in, told the patient there was no reason to be concerned (without examining her or answering any questions), and suggested she drink the cocktail and follow up with the physician who did the scope.  With that, the provider then flung open the curtain and, hanging over the nurse’s station was a huge sign that said something along the lines of, “We just wanted you to know, our ED is rated one of the best in the area by <Survey Vendor Name>.”  Seeing the sign, the patient said, “I don’t know who <Vendor> is, but he definitely was not seen in this emergency department.”

Apparently someone there thought the sign was going to help convince patients that they had a great experience. That’s not working. The individual patient is the judge of the experience and no sign will persuade them otherwise.

Signs Are Not Always a Good Idea

Healthcare organizations put a lot of effort into patient experience and should be proud when they achieve high rankings. But be careful about placing this type of sign unless you are confident that you’ll deliver the best experience each and every time. Otherwise it could work against you.

  • Here’s Your Sign
  • The Mid-Level Provider is In
  • Think Before you Hang that Sign
  • Here’s Your Sign: Labeling patients diminishes the patient experience
  • A Sign Doesn’t Replace Interaction in Shaping the Patient Experience
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