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Look through the Lens of the Patient

A couple weeks ago, my husband was told by our family physician that he should see an oncologist for an issue that wasn’t healing. What would you be feeling? That was exactly what my husband and I were both experiencing: terror, panic, and fear. Great customer service starts with looking through the lens of your customer and identifying with their emotions, then meeting the needs. Therefore, when he went for this visit to the oncologist, one would hope that starting with the staff, they would look through his lens, but in this case, they did not. He was processed through the receptionist desk into the waiting room with a “next in line” attitude. No acknowledgement of any emotions to show they were connecting with him as a human being. When he was called back to the patient room, the first clinical person to greet him was a staff member who proceeded to ask him questions and write the answers on a sheet of paper and put the sheet in a folder. This was followed by a physician assistant who came in and proceeded to ask him basically the same set of questions, and he too, wrote them on a sheet of paper and put in same folder.
After a 15 minute delay that left my husband sitting in the patient room by himself staring at the walls, a young doctor breezed into the room and announced that he was the oncologist. He had the folder in his hand and cursorily reviewed it, then told my husband he would like to do a physical examination. During this examination, the doctor make commentary on what he was seeing: “this looks bad”, “this is big”, “you have had this for a long time”, “this looks like skin cancer HPV”.

When finished with the physical exam, the oncologist quickly ordered a biopsy and then told my husband who was still on the table, to make an appointment for a consultation the following week, and abruptly left the room. The staff advised my husband to get dressed, showed him the exit path to pay his bill and set up the consultation appointment, and then went on to the next patient room.
What a horrible experience! No follow up with the doctor in civilian clothes in his office, no discussion on possible treatments, nothing! And to top it off, the oncologist called the family doctor to report that he had found something big, bad, and it had been there a long time. The family doctor called and offered their sympathy and prayers.
Luckily, we had a connection to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. We called and got an appointment for the following Monday. What an entirely different experience from the start. An itinerary was sent to us on Sunday as to who we would be seeing and what time. When we entered, we were greeted by smiling receptionists and helpful employees up and down the halls who were guiding patients and visitors to the correct rooms and buildings.
After a short wait in a beautiful atrium, we were escorted back to a patient room that had a small sofa for me and my husband. The doctor came into the room in a business suit and introduced himself as the first doctor we would be seeing that day. He gave full attention and used active listening skills to ask my husband about his life style and typed the questions into a laptop. I left the room for the physical exam, but was asked to come back in as the doctor described what he had seen and how he thought it could be treated. He was confident, calm, and reassuring.
We were escorted to the next doctor, the oncologist and he too, came into the room dressed in a business suit. As with the other doctor, he proceeded to ask my husband about his life style and typed the answers into a laptop. After the physical exam, he shared his diagnosis. He did not believe it was cancer, but a lifestyle situation caused by sweating and too much tennis. He took a biopsy, but stated he was very confident in his answer. He made small talk about his children and wished us well.
We left the Mayo Clinic, ecstatic with the news. Without this visit, we would still have had two more days of agonizing worry before getting back into a consultation with the first doctor that had diagnosed skin cancer HPV. Both biopsies came back negative.
I know doctors are humans and make mistakes just like anyone else, but the experience between the two institutions was night and day. In the first experience, we were like cattle being herded through a process designed to get people in and out. Uncaring, unfeeling, cold, and clinical. In the Mayo experience, we felt like valued customers and were treated as if they truly cared about us, no matter what the outcome. Who will we rave about, whose brand will be reinforced, who will we recommend to everyone we know? Of course, the answer is Mayo Clinic.
I hope you will take a good hard look at the business you are in and take a walk in your customers’ shoes, look through their lens, and then decide who they are going out and recommending to others. You or your competition?

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