Can Service actually make you want to go to a Hospital?

By October 18, 2015Thoughts

The surprising answer is, well, yes.

I have had the unfortunate good fortune of being in the same hospital three times over the same number of months to experience first-hand their move to a “customer service” model. Being in the business of helping businesses roll out service to their internal and external clients I never figured that I would be part of the actual experience from a customer perspective. They are definitely learning to “walk the talk”.

Swedish Medical Center is a 368 bed acute care hospital located in Englewood, Colorado, since my first visit with my elderly mother in July of 2015 I have suspiciously watched their transformation to a solid patient focused organization. Knowing this is a difficult culture shift to really pull off I laughed at their new tag line, TAKE ME TO SWEDISH! Really, I told my husband, even at their best day it isn’t Disneyland!

The changes that were evident in July consisted of adding layers that wrapped the patient in a better customer experience across the silos of nursing, pharmacy, scheduling and the physicians. It began with informative boards that answer the confusing questions of who is my nurse on this shift, who are the multiple people parading in and what procedures should I expect from here. Very clean unification. Also a personal cell line for the primary nurse so they could be reached as needed was a very convenient touch when I had to run work or personal errands outside of the hospital during my Mom’s stay.

The second visit I became aware that this board approach had been included in the surgery waiting room for the family. Suddenly the family wasn’t entirely the uninformed members, you could track where your husband, wife, child or friend was in the process. Also the subset of the information was in the prep and recovery room was very helpful.

My third visit this week showed that the service experience had been expanded even to a greater extent and that the culture had been accepting the changes. Each team member, from check-in through nurse originally sounded forced to ask something like, “What can we do to make this a better experience? Are you nervous? Would you like a hot blanket? Should we know anything else about you?” Now it was second nature. Each hospital member from tech to Doctor that I encountered made sure to introduce themselves with a hand-shake to both my Mom and myself. (Of course, they grabbed one of the ever-present hand sanitizers on the way out.) This helped you feel that you were a part of the experience and not just someone who had to clear the room when the entered. Newest touch, is that valet greets you warmly and asks for first name vs. last so they can address you on a more personal nature. All of them seem like insignificant points on their own but they tie together in a big way for a solid customer experience while in a situation that no one wants to be a part of, having a loved one

being dependent on strangers, big cold buildings and technology to get better or simply to survive.

While I sat there reading my book du jour I overheard multiple phone surveys, following up to see how the experiences had been of past patients, requesting input and names of anyone who had made a difference to that stay. The lessons learned portion of change was in full swing.

As we were leaving this time to be back yet again in the next month, I told my Mom to remember who she liked so she could participate. She said that she liked them all and rattled off the 3 primary nurses’ names. I was impressed. Being 85 and on pain-killers the service layers still worked.

They still are in the transformation and unfortunately it won’t be complete until the silo called physicians is integrated where the nurses can help schedule those touch points and have current orders entered in their systems as well, but the progress in this short time is evident and appreciated.

Of course, no one would go to a hospital just for service, they need to have the levels of care and equipment required to provide the best medicine possible, but all things being equal I would say Take Me To Swedish.


Laura Wilcox


Service Made Simple