Privileged Patient Service for Everyone

The Royal WeddingIn our emergency department, we tried putting physicians and patients together at the front door.  Staff – nurses and physicians – hated it.

Why do all this?” they asked.

Because it’s what we do for our family and friends,” we said.  “We never make you or your family wait. We’re trying to see if we can do the same for everyone.

Well, there has to be some benefit to working in the emerg!” they shot back.

The trial didn’t stick for many reasons, but it revealed a dichotomy in service intent.  Earlier, we chose ‘treat patients as family’ as a department vision.  It generated thoughtful nods, shrugs or eye-rolling and snickers.  But we didn’t get fundamental resistance until we tried to put ‘treat patients as family’ into practice.

Like we discussed in the ‘put patients first’ post, we need to know what it means to treat everyone like royalty.

Privileged Patients

  • never wait, or only for a few minutes max.
  • do no sit in waiting rooms with crowds
  • have attention paid to their personal comfort
  • walk straight over to imaging departments
  • get what they need right away
  • skip non-essential steps/go straight to the MD
  • have special access to their FP and consultants
  • feel comfortable asking an extra question or two
  • never need to say, ‘Sorry to bother you’ over and over again
  • know providers are happy to help them
  • choose who they see and ask around to find out the best person to see
  • do not wait on hold to ask a question
  • do not listen to answering machines
  • and so much more…

Privileged patients get the absolute best we can muster despite less than ideal offices and departments.

Great healthcare needs a guide to direct the service we provide for patients, how we treat people.  It’s impossible to come up with every specific instance describing how process should improve.  Asking how our privileged patients would experience healthcare suggests a place to start.

Would privileged patients

  • have to line up to get registered?
  • fill out endless forms before having treatment started?
  • spend hours enduring bureaucratic process to get a question answered?
  • feel they shouldn’t bother their providers?
  • wait for x-ray or lab results?

Privileged patients know how to access care and do not wait for what they need.  They look at their x-ray images as soon as the film gets captured.  They watch their lab results pop up on the computer as they get reported.  They know secretaries by name and call them without fear.

Great healthcare systems treat patient like family. They treat everyone as though they were a privileged patient.


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