Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

If our agency has a niche it is health care marketing. Our clients are the best of the best. Together we painstakingly design campaigns in order to emphasize the QUALITY of the care offered. They mean it and we mean it.

I have had a most absurd experience in the health care market place over the past month. I should'nt call it absurd, because in reality it is kind of frightening.

I knew I had a problem that required a physician's attention. My family doctor is the very best doctor in the world. He ordered the necessary tests and referred me to the proper surgeon. That's the end of anything going according to any sort of plan that one would expect.

I had my testing done at a hospital that I assumed was the same quality as any other hospital. I must say, the personnel could not have been any friendlier. That counts; however, they do not have "courier service" with any other hospitals or physicians in the area - meaning I had to go there to pick up my test results and haul them around with me. Great. I don't know how to properly care for an x ray film! What if I ruined them in my hot car? Do you have to feed them? If so, what???

Then there was the surgeon. I hauled my test results to his office, expecting an expert - I mean, that's what a surgeon is right? Oh my. There was a disc with my test results. HE COULD NOT READ IT. He was literally unable to decipher the information on the disc.... but thought I shouldn't worry. Waiting 6 months would be fine.

WHAT!? Excuse me, but I have a field of expertise as well. If I am unable to obtain good data, I am unable to make a good decision. To me, waiting 6 months based on NO DATA is unacceptable and I threw a little hissy fit, complete with tears to prove it. I was sent immediately (with my new companion, the test results) to another hospital for further testing.

That's when everything stopped making sense. The hospital I was referred to the second time is a "magnet hospital", a "top 100 hospital". I cannot imagine what would have happened to me at a bottom 100 hospital. Where are they - they should be shut down at once. No one deserves that kind of care.

Things went smoothly to begin with. My appointment was scheduled a month out - and I took it like a big girl. At least I was taking charge of my health.... right???

The morning of the procedure as I was walking out the door, the "magnet hospital" called to tell me they had sent the test results back to the original hospital. Could I stop and PICK THEM UP? I guess the magnet hospital has courier service. How nice.

Hissy fit number 2! I was SCREAMING at the unlucky person who called me. NO. I was not picking up the test results! What possessed them to send them back in the first place? She asked me if I wanted her to call to see if she could get them. Did that need to be asked???

The radiologist was great. There ends the praise for the "magnet hospital". It isn't her fault she works there.

The day after the procedure I called to ask if I could expect my results at the follow-up appointment 2 days hence. I thought I remembered them telling me that - but the procedure was rather unsettling and I was foggy.

They had no idea. How hard is it to put something under a microscope? I told them I wasn't coming to the appointment if there were no test results. Why bill my insurance (that I am fortunate to have) if all we were doing was looking for signs of infection? I can do that at home.

Now comes the time where I admit that I take no grief from anyone. I tried to submit an online form to the "magnet hospital" to tell them about needing to pick up the first batch of test results on the day of the procedure. The form was not functioning so I called and was put through to the "patient advocate". He was a nasty cuss but promised to call me back. He didn't. Now I'm scared and MAD.

By this time I am in an all out panic. Waiting on a cancer diagnosis is a horrible, horrible time. The day of the follow up appointment someone from the "magnet hospital" called me at work and said, "your test results have come through. You can come to the appointment this afternoon". Then she hung up. Nice. I thought the worst.

As it happens everything is perfectly fine.

That's great news. The bad news is The Health Care System. A SURGEON who is not able to use an ostensibly standard (?) program on his laptop in order to read diagnostic tests ought to either get some training or retire.

A division of a "magnet hospital" that is hand-delivered diagnostic images and an order for a biopsy ought to be able to keep track of their stuff. I failed to mention that they were able to schedule my appointment based on the surgeon's order - then subsequently lost the order and called me 3 times for it! Hi, you must have had it since you scheduled my appointment - can you LOOK FOR IT?

I hope not all facilities are like this. I have a feeling some are much worse - thus the "magnet hospital". Here is their Mission Statement: To Create An Extraordinary Experience Every Time.

My experience certainly was extraordinary! So extraordinary I'll avoid the place like the plague!

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