This example makes it easy to understand good patient experience, and it makes it even easier to understand what is not good experience.
My daughter and I walked into the office of her orthodontist this morning. Within five minutes the staff of ten, and the doctor, were serenading a thirty-two-year-old mother of two with a song they had written. Why? Because she just had her braces removed. One the big screen television flashed pictures of the woman, what she looked like before braces and now. They presented her with gifts, there were balloons, and to eat were many of the foods she had avoided because of her braces.
My daughter checked herself in on some monitor. She carried with her a cup of wooden nickels that she had earned from her visits over the last eighteen months. She redeemed the nickels for a fifteen dollar gift certificate; not much a return for a five thousand dollar investment but she was happy.
The orthodontist sends her a birthday card and invites her and a friend to a Halloween party and a spring bowling party.
I’m not sold on the experience for the parents, but the patients are. And what the heck, we have spent ten thousand dollars, got two fifteen dollar gift certificates, and a slice of pizza at the bowling party.
What makes this experience remarkable and what makes it different from any hospital experience is that this experience was designed, thought through, planned, and executed.
I do not suggest that hospitals sing to the patients or give them wooden nickels.
I do suggest that the entire experience be planned, starting from before they enter the hospital until after they are discharged.
I have been a heart patient for eleven years and during that period I have spent far less than one percent of my time in the hospital. Yet I have an experience with my hospital even when I am not an inpatient. And the thing is, nobody has designed any part of my experience.
I agree — as long as the patients and their families are given an opportunity, an active role in planning the entire experience!