How not to do it

If you read this blog on even a semi-regular basis you know customer service is important to me and its a priority in all the areas I’m responsible for and important at GVMH.  Because I have high expectations for customer service at GVMH I tend to pay close attention to customer service provided by other health care organizations.

I had a personal experience last week with a health care provider in Kansas City that demonstrated exactly what not to do when it comes to customer service.  I won’t mention the provider in this blog but I will describe the situation in hopes that it prevents someone from making the same mistakes at GVMH.

About a year ago I had LASIK surgery on both eyes and I have had complications with my right eye to the point that I must have the procedure repeated on my right eye.  The complications were no fault of the surgeon, I had a scar form and the scar has caused my vision to be blurry.  It’s just one of those things and it happens in a small percentage of all LASIK surgeries.  In fact, the surgeon who performed the first procedure is a pioneer in his field and is one of the most respected vision correction surgeons in the country.

I traveled to Kansas City last week for my pre-op visit.  I entered the office and walked up to the reception desk.  The person working at the desk looked up at me and said “Yes” (no smile, no greeting, no how may I help you – just “Yes”).  I said “I’m Craig Thompson and I’m here for my pre-op visit”.  The receptionist reached up to a pile of folders, pulled out a piece of paper and said “Have a seat” (no I’m glad you’re here, thanks for coming, please be seated and we will be with you in a few moments – just “Have a seat”). 

I sat down in the empty waiting area, it wasn’t like they were busy, pulled out my phone and began checking emails from work.  After waiting only 5 minutes someone walked into the waiting area and said “Craig Thompson”.  I stood and the person that called my name began walking down the hall.  I assumed, and fortunately I assumed correctly, that I should follow her.  I followed the person into a room where I was instructed to sit on a stool and look into a machine.

I spent about 10 minutes in this room and the person I was with was very pleasant but at no point did she introduce herself or explain what she was doing.  Fortunately I had been through the process a year ago and it hadn’t changed so I knew that she was creating a “map” of my eyeball.

Once I finished in the first room, the pleasant woman without a name told me, not asked me, to follow her down the hall to another room.  In the second room I had a vision exam.  Once the vision exam was complete the no-name woman handed me a tissue and said “I’m going to place some numbing drops into your eye”. 

I was OK not getting any information about what she was doing when all I had to do was look into machine and stare at a red dot but when no-name girl told me that she was going to put numbing drops into my eye, I got a little anxious.  Afterall, I drove myself, would the numbing drops affect my vision, I also assumed that an eyeball is numbed for a reason and that reason may be that something painful is about to happen.

At this point I said, “Why are you numbing my eye, I drove myself and I want to be able to see traffic coming at me at 70 mph and I’m worried whatever you’re going to do to my numb eyeball might be painful if it weren’t numb”.  The nameless woman said “Oh, don’t worry you’ll be able to see fine I just need to numb your eyeball so I can stick this probe in it to test the thickness of your eye”.

I felt a little better knowing that my vision would not be affected, I wasn’t real keen on a probe being stuck in my eye so I asked to see the probe and I asked for further explanation.  Lady X, we’ll call her, gave me a complete explanation and showed me the probe which made me feel better and I consented to the “stick in the eye” test and I didn’t feel a thing.

Talk about how not to do it, that’s exactly how this place did it.  Don’t you think the entire process would have gone much better if I had been greeted with a smile upon entering and asked to take a seat as someone explained how long I should anticipate waiting.  If Miss No-Name had introduced herself and explained what she was going to do and asked if I had questions before she did it.  If she would have explained what she planned to do my appointment would have taken 10 fewer minutes because I wouldn’t have freaked out when she decided to numb my eyeball and stick a probe in it.

It’s important that we smile at patients and co-workers, it puts them at ease.  It’s important that we set expectations by telling people how long they should expect to wait.  It’s REALLY important that we introduce ourselves and tell people what we do, for all I know the janitor could have been doing eye exams the day I went for my pre-op.  It’s even more important that we explain what we will be doing to a patient because it calms fears.

My surgery is March 1 and I’m hopeful things go differently at the reception desk and in the surgical suite when I’m getting prepped.  If not, I may still have blurry vision in my right eye March 2 because I’m not sure I’ll give them another chance.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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1 Response to How not to do it

  1. On Feb. 15th I had to go to the GVMH emergency room. I was there approx. 8 hours before being admitted (not the highlight of my visit). However, once admitted, the staff at GVMH took excellent care of me … and I am not easy to please when it comes to first rate health care. Honestly, can’t say enough good things about the doctors or nurses. Thanks for all you do to ensure excellent customer service at GVMH.

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