Watch the Hassle-Factor in Patient Experience

Posted by Kristin Baird

When people think about improving the patient experience, it’s important to pay close attention to the hassle factor. Here it is, 2019, and we have more apps and other communication tools than any time in history – so why is important information still slipping between the cracks?

A friend of mine who is caring for her elderly mother discovered early signs of a pressure sore. While at a GI appointment, the physician confirmed that was indeed what it was. He complemented my friend for the proactive approach to their mom’s care and told my friend to call the primary care doctor for topical treatment.

Simple, right?

Not so fast. I’d love to provide the journey map to show just how many steps were required to complete this simple task, but I don’t have the graphic design skills to do it justice. But I can provide a bulleted list.

These are a few of the steps it took for my friend to get help for her mother:

  • 4 calls to primary care office over a 2 week period. Each call involved the very nice nurse who promised to place the order.
  • 3 trips to 2 different pharmacies; Walgreens and CVS. Each time, they left empty-handed.
  • Received one voice mail from CVS (prescription was supposed to go to Walgreens) saying they have gel, not cream and asking caregiver to let them know if they were okay with the gel.
  • Arrived at CVS, told she couldn’t receive the gel until the doctor changed the order from cream to gel. Come back tomorrow.
  • 1 call to the nurse helpline where she was told to get the product from their home health nurse. They do not have home health nursing service and informed the helpline of this. (Later, when following up with the physician’s office, they read a note in the chart saying the nurse from the hotline documented that she advised patient to get the product from her home health nurse, despite being told she didn’t have home health nursing.)
  • On the third trip to the pharmacy, caregiver learned from the pharmacist that she could buy the product at a durable medical store down the street. Not one person had mentioned she could get the product over the counter.
  • Went to durable medical store, but they did not have the product.
  • Ordered it from Amazon. The product arrived 24 hours later.

Frustrated reading this?

If so, you’re not alone. Most people would give up, but my friend persevered for the 10 days it took to get what she needed. What really bothers me about this, and the many stories I hear about the broken systems in healthcare is – What about the person who doesn’t have an advocate to keep going back, asking questions, and jumping through hoops? My fear is that their needs are going unmet.

  1. Patient Experience is all About Trust – Don’t Blow It!
  2. How do you say, “I don’t give a damn”?
  3. Words that Wound, Words that Work, Words that Wow
  4. Want a great patient experience? Watch your language.
  5. Watch for Olympic Moments
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