Grand Rounds: TOPIC: Customer Service in Healthcare

I want to start this week’s Grand Rounds’ blog with my own blog post. I asked for postings on customer service and I have one to share. My 17-year-old son has been having some issues with depression and social anxiety. We got him in to see a therapist and his family practitioner prescribed a low dose of Prozac, both of which seemed to be helping until he hit a crisis when his girlfriend broke up with him. He literally fell apart and scared us to death.

His therapist called me back the night of the crisis within 5 minutes of my leaving a message with the answering service. He was only in town for a week before leaving for vacation, but he saw our son twice and called our son’s primary care doctor to suggest upping the antidepressant dose. The doctor called me one evening to say she totally concurred and, since our son’s therapist would be out of town the following week, wanted to see our son herself.

I was so touched. I have never had an MD (who wasn’t a psychiatrist) want to see me (or anyone in my family) for anything other than a strictly physical illness. Not only that, but I knew that she was dealing with her own health crisis–a 6-month-old with Down Syndrome who had just undergone open heart surgery. Her caring and understanding literally made me cry; and my son really enjoyed talking to her. She–and my son’s therapist–have restored quite a lot of our faith in clinicians, not to mention our son’s mental health.

Now, onto the blogs!

Although I asked for blogs related to customer service in medicine, I did promise those would not be the only ones I would highlight. Along those lines, I have to be selfish and nominate a blog I work on, Pediatric Perspectives, which provides topics of note for community pediatricians and family practitioners. The blog is supported by the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and written by yours truly with the incredibly fabulous input of many of the hospital’s clinical staff. The most recent posting is on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations on swimming lessons for kids.

Enough self promotion!

Do want to know what life is like for surgeons? How about a surgeon from the nearly unpronounceable town of Mpumalanga, South Africa (yes, the same country in which the Soccer World Cup is now occurring). Then check out “Other Things Amanzi.” This week the surgical resident shares his experiences with the busiest  rotation of all: vascular surgery.

Initiate Systems, an IBM-owned healthcare IT company one might never think of when it comes to medical blogs, let alone ones based on customer service, just posted a fantastic blog by Jamie Welch, Chief Information Officer at the Louisiana Rural Hospital Coalition, Inc about using information to improve rural health care. The post contains some great metrics and a case study demonstrating how medical customer service has improved for underserved patients in rural Louisiana.

Meanwhile, Initiate’s director of product marketing, Deanna Nole, wrote a post last winter on how to use relationships to improve patient care.

Want to hear about customer service from the patient perspective? Then hop over to the Life of a Grad Student with Lupus. This is not a hearts-and-roses kind of blog, but that one that hits hard where it hurts–and one that any clinician in the field should be reading to get a sense of how what you say and do impacts your patients.

How about customer service from the perspective of one who lives on the other side of the “pond?” That’s what Henry Stern’s INSUREBLOG offers. The blog covers  insurance issues, principles and solutions related to healthcare in the UK. The one we’re highlighting here is a frightening post about how 3,000 patients die each year because of short staffing in UK hospitals over the weekends.

Ever wondered how care from hospitalists could  translate into better customer service? To find out, you have to read Chris Langston’s thoughtful post on the topic at health AGEnda, the John A. Hartford Foundation blog.

Other recommendations this week:

Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis, courtesy of practicing primary care doctor David Liu, who provides insight into what patients must do to stay healthy and spend wisely as the healthcare system spirals into expensive anarchy.

Diabetes Mine. I have to admit to doing quite a lot of work in the diabetes arena these days (after all, you ARE reading a blog by the co-author of the “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Type 2 Diabetes“). Even so, the topic of Amy Tenderich’s latest post, about a California ruling that only nurses can  administer insulin to diabetic kids at school, sent chills down my spine. See if you feel the same by reading the post.

Medical Lessons. In which Elaine Schattner, MD shares her reasoning for rejecting the concept of a “medical consumer” because it debases the patient-doctor relationship and, ultimately, renders patients as objects.

Better Health. This is the web site that roped me into hosting Grand Rounds and whose owners I so admire! So read Better Health’s submission for this week’s Grand Rounds: A Man is Not Equal to the Sum of his Medicine Problems, highlighting the uniqueness of every patient through the chilling anecdote of a man who had been misdiagnosed with kidney disease.

That’s it for this week! If you’re interested in getting into Grand Rounds next week, check out the details from Dr. Elaine Schattner of Medical Lessons.

17 Responses to “Grand Rounds: TOPIC: Customer Service in Healthcare”

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  4. Outsource Call Center

    Nice post! Good customer service is necessary. I believe that treating the customer so politely makes them so comfortable and satisfied with your services. Keep posting!


  5. Phillip

    Customer care is indeed important in all sorts of organization and companies. We must always keep it in mind that even in health care, customer service is still important because health care is such a big business these days.

    In reality, customer service outlook in health care are lofty, which creates a vast dare for health care workforce. I think for them to be more exceptional, they must also have call centers or customer care lines so that if clients have health concerns, health care groups are just a one phone call away.

    Well anyways, thanks for the informative post!

  6. Anonymous


  7. Anonymous

    This is a great blog is very important to use any method to informer about health care . look thi to http;//

  8. Dede | Health Care

    Usefull articles, I like it

    ( Health Care everyday )

  9. Herbal Diet

    Nice post …. thanks for sharing

  10. Crysta Anderson

    Great post, Deb, and thanks for including Initiate! Excellent topic that's always timely.

  11. The Happy Hospitalist

    Nice selection, but I can't find my post. I know that must have been an error on your part. Considering this is Grand Rounds and not the Nobel Prize.

  12. Elaine Schattner, M.D.

    Thanks for hosting. It sounds like you're getting wonderful care, no matter what we might call it.

  13. Maria Gifford

    Thanks for hosting this week's Grand Rounds for us, Deb. Much appreciated! – MG

    Maria Gifford
    Content Manager
    Better Health

  14. gradstudentwithlupus

    Thanks for including my post. I'm honored! I really enjoyed reading the other selections as well.

    thanks again,
    SR (@gradstdntwlupus)

  15. Henry Stern, LUTCF, CBC

    Wow, Deb, what a great job!!!

    Thanks for hosting, and for including our post!


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