Patient Experience Management

Have I mentioned I am an unapologetically type A person, for the most part an off the chart Meyers Briggs INTJ? This morning I awoke feeling no more querulous than usual—that would change rather abruptly. In general, I make it a rule never to learn anything before having my first cup of coffee. Unfortunately, today wasn’t going to be one of those days. In fact, my mood was a direct result of the instrument pictured above.

These days I am using this device to make my coffee as my espresso maker’s LED screen is displaying a message telling me my grinder is blocked—sounds a little like something two tablespoons of Pepto should be able to fix, doesn’t it? Google was no help—three hits, each instructing me to send it back to the dealer for a $350 repair. Sounds more like a response you’d get regarding a car, not a coffee maker.

I brought this pot home, a gift from my client in Madrid. It works using the same principles as a pressure cooker. Water is placed in the bottom; an espresso grind goes above the water.  Steam is forced through the grind, past a metal sieve, and into the container where as it cools it is reconstituted as a liquid—coffee. Anyway, as my coffee is cooking, I notice the metal sieve sitting on the counter. It seemed like too much work to turn it off, rinse the pot, regrind the coffee, and wait the additional five minutes. I was too tired for a do-over.

Too bad for me. Now, I’m not sure if what happened next would be found under the topic of fluid mechanics, converting steam into thermal energy, or general explosives, but it would have made for an entertaining physics experiment. In what appeared to play out in slow motion—like the Challenger explosion—actually occurred in a fraction of a second. It seems the metal sieve does more than strain the grinds from the steam. It also prevents a thermonuclear reaction. Apparently when the pressure passes the fail-safe point, the reaction proceeds to the next logical step. That step, which I observed, involves coffee and grinds exiting the pot so rapidly that before I could blink they covered the kitchen walls, counters, and floors as far away as ten feet. (It was actually pretty impressive to watch.) I was informed that once I finish writing about my travails I will be attending to the mess.

The scene reminded me of one of the forensic shows on cable. I halfway expected the medical examiner Dr. Henry Lee to walk through my door to examine the splatter pattern.

The choice I faced was to do it over, or deal with the consequences. I was in a hurry, consequences be damned—it turns out that it wasn’t the consequences that would be damned. My guess is that I’m looking at at least thirty minutes of cleanup work.

It pays to invest the time to do something right the first time—I refer to that as the DIRT-FIT principle; sort of like dealing with patients. Let’s say a certain patient call takes nine minutes to handle correctly. As many of you have observed, there are two ways to go about this. You can do it over a period of several four minute calls because your people don’t want to get dinged for exceeding their handle time allotment, or you can allow the people to talk until the patient’s need is solved.

As patients, we know you prefer the first approach. Patients prefer the second approach.

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