The chief executive officer of a Florida hospital decided to go undercover. He did not shave for two days, he put on a baseball cap, and pretended to be sick. The plan was part of an effort by HCA Holdings, to find out what it’s really like to be one of its customers. He was able to see things and have the experiences the way patients do.
This was done because hospitals across the U.S. are attempting to make patient stays more pleasant. Since the government is willing to give out almost $1 billion this year in bonus Medicare payments. The government will award it to those that meet Washington’s expectations. The way this will be determined is by asking patients whether their room was comfortable, if it was quiet at night, and how well their pain was controlled. Estimates of how much hospitals may get aren’t yet available, but high evaluations could mean millions of dollars for hospitals.
“Asking patients directly is the best way to measure care,” says Patrick Conway, chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It may not lower death rates but it may at least result in better bedside manner. The Cleveland Clinic use noise meters to make sure the hallways in the hospital are quiet at night and they do role-playing for doctors to improve their communication skills with patients. HCA is encouraging hospital executives to pose as secret patients to spot flaws that could lead to low rankings. All this effort is in hope to may make patients dread hospitals less.
It is important for this to be achieved because they are providing a service in hope that the patients expectations are exceeded. It does not always need to be achieved by having an illness cured but the ease and sensibility of the procedure is very important. Therefore, to me empathy is one of the most important service dimensions out of the five, when my dentist told me I had to have my wisdom teeth surgically removed I was afraid of the procedure since it would be my first surgery. In seeing my reaction the dentist communicated with me that everything would be fine and the way he spoke to me made me feel that he cared about how I would feel in his chair, making me less afraid of my procedure. Overall I believe hospitals should improve their service so it is a pleasant experience from the moment you enter to the moment you step out.
Questions to think about
What are some things you wish hospitals would improve?
Have you had any bad experiences at hospitals?
Which of the five service dimensions are most important to you?