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A Patient Experience So Bad I Inadvertently Dropped the F-Bomb

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

waiting and patient respectAnyone who knows me personally or professionally would likely agree that I’m sort of a high-energy guy.

Nevertheless, we would also agree, that heavy-handed swear words are not in my usual nature or vocabulary. But -- there’s an important lesson for others in this tale, so I’ll confess to this recent, embarrassing exception.

The story goes back at least five years, but (obviously) I still feel emotional about what happened. So much so that I inadvertently dropped the (F-bomb expletive) as I described a “patient experience” that involved my mother’s doctor at the time.

Expletive f-bomb nearly deleted...

I was describing a time when the doctor required my elderly mother to be at his office at 7:30 AM. The troubling part was that I found out later that the doctor doesn’t actually come into the office until 9:00 AM.

It turned out that it was purely more convenient for the doctor to have patient’s “stacked up” when he’s ready to begin. (And, thus, the doctor doesn’t have to wait.)

Even in retelling this tale years later, I was livid, and exploded at the idea: “Are you f-ing kidding me?”

The very idea that a doctor would deliberately require an ailing and elderly patient to wait for an hour and a half is offensive. What’s more, I am also offended and stuck waiting. As the adult child of the patient, I have responsibilities as a business owner. I was prepared to leave; not wanting to waste more time waiting.

The marketing lesson…

At the time, my mother convinced me to stay and wait it out. This time. But never again. Some individuals—typically older generations—might be willing to “wait it out,” even if they discover the office does not value the patient’s time.

Perhaps they don’t want to upset the doctor. Perhaps they fear retaliation. Maybe they believe that a complaining patient will get poor service or be made to wait even longer. It turns out that the people who might put up with that treatment are dying off.

The point is that the new generation of patients—the very people that you want as patients—will never put up with that mistreatment. Being deliberately made to wait communicates a feeling that “you don’t care about me” as a patient or as a partner in healthcare.

In short, providers can’t get away with disrespect. Patients are no longer passive participants in health care. They are informed and empowered consumers who demand the same “customer care” as they experience every day in the retail world.


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