Taking Care of Patients (TCOP)–the business side

That’s me in the back row–just kidding. There are approximately 640 muscles in the human body. Yesterday I pulled 639 of them. In anticipation of the onset of winter I’ve been ramping up my workouts, and at the moment am scarcely able to lift a pencil. I came across an article that describes the full body workout used by the University of North Carolina basketball players. It involves a ten-pound medicine ball, and 400 repetitions spread across a handful of exercises. I’m three days into it and giving a lot of thought about investigating what kind of workout the UNC math team may be using. At my son’s basketball practice last night, the parents took on the boys—they are ten. That 640th muscle, the holdout, now hurts as bad as the rest of them.

So, this morning I’m running on the treadmill, because it’s cold and the slate colored clouds look heavy with rain. While I’m running, I am watching the Military History Channel, more specifically a show on the Civil War’s Battle of Bull Run—I learned that that’s what the Yankees called it, they named the battles after the nearest river, the Rebs called it the Battle of Manassas, named after the nearest town. The historian doing the narration spoke to the wholesale slaughter that occurred on both sides. He equated the slaughter to the fact that military technology had outpaced military strategy. The armies lined up close together, elbow to elbow, and marched towards cannon fire that slaughtered them. Had they spread themselves out, the technology would have been much less effective.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss the segue. You had to know this was coming. Does your hospital have one of those designer call centers? You know the ones—wide open spaces, sky lights, sterile. Fabric swatches. The fabric of the chair matches that of the cubicle, which in turn are coordinated with the carpeting. Raised floors. Zillions of dollars of technology purring away underfoot. We have technology that can answer the call, talk to the caller, route the caller, and record the caller for that all important black hole called “purposes of quality.”

The only thing we haven’t been able to do is to find technology to solve the patient’s problems. Taking Care of Patients (TCOP), also known as Patient Experience Management (PEM).  We’ve used it to automate almost everything. If we remove all the overlaying technology, we still face the same business processes that were underfoot ten years ago. Call center technology has outpaced call center strategy. Call center technology hasn’t made call centers more effective, it’s made them more efficient. Call center strategies are geared towards efficiencies. Only when we design call center strategies around being more effective will the strategy begin to maximize the capabilities of the technologies.


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