The institution that employs me is very bullish on customer satisfaction. Having come from a fourteen year stint in private practice before I came back into the university fold six years ago, the little things that make a practice run smoothly come naturally to me.
Patients are typically seen within a week of the consultation request — same day if they are in an emergency situation. My front office staff actually answer their phones and my nurses and I return phone calls from patients, even if we have to do it after regular business hours. The physicist and dosimetrist make sure that the radiation plans are optimal and that each plan undergoes intense scrutiny and quality assurance before the patient ever lies down on the table. The therapy staff work hard to make sure that the patients are treated with dignity and on time, at an hour which is convenient to their schedules.
Despite my natural inclination towards dawdling and chatting, I try to keep to my schedule. At the end of a patient’s treatment course, I personally ask him or her to fill out our patient satisfaction survey because the university bases my staff’s bonuses on the results. So far, I have never been disappointed.
Recently we treated a patient who had some significant physical challenges. He was extremely overweight, with severe arthritis in his hips and knees. In order to get to the “vault” to be treated, he had to be wheeled in a wheelchair, which required the coordination of several people since our doors lock for security. Each day, a therapist would come up the elevator to get the patient, and our receptionist would hold open the door so that it would not close and bang into the wheelchair. Time changes were made in his schedule to accommodate his other numerous appointments. His wife partook of our Halloween potluck party and shared tidbits about her day with our front office staff. His handicapped parking space was never occupied, and he never waited for treatment. To all outward appearances he and his wife were treated like members of our family.
At the end of his treatment, the results of their patient satisfaction survey were eagerly awaited. We knew it was going to be spectacular. And it was. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, each question was answered successively with a 5. Was it easy to get a convenient appointment? 5. Were you welcomed in a friendly manner? 5. Was the center comfortable and clean? 5. Did the physician clearly explain the treatment objectives to you? Again, 5, of course. And so it went. Until we came to the “Comments” section at the end.
The comments were written with perfect penmanship and read as follows: “We thought your pink wall might be better if it was more of a rust color, to match the chairs and vases. The color that it is just didn’t seem to go with the room.”
I’ll probably run out and pick up the paint chips at Home Depot this weekend. We’ll get right on it!
Miranda Fielding is a radiation oncologist who blogs at The Crab Diaries.