Excellent Customer Service in the U.S. Health Care System

The U.S. Health Care System

Health care in the United States has taken a big hit, especially in the past four years. Economical streamlining has created cuts across the nation, but world wide, people feel the negative effects of a crushed economy. There is not one country that has not experienced a blow to their nation’s financial stability. When this occurs, it affects all areas of livelihood, including our health care and its delivery.

As a Registered Nurse, I have observed changes in medical centers, doctor’s offices, and hospitals, where I’ve been employed for the duration of my career. Historically, health care providers focused on the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the patient, concerned for a person’s total well being. As time passed, the technical aspects of health care became state of the art, and health care as an industry became primarily focused on profit and progress, losing the personal touch. As small hospitals gave way to larger health care systems, and doctor’s offices became medical centers, patient care became time driven-how many patients could be seen in X number of hours. No longer was it acceptable for a doctor to sit and chat about what might really be ailing you.

Excellent Customer Service has Strong Leaders

Now, more than ever before, businesses are realizing that ‘good customer service’ is no longer the goal; competition is steep in all types of industries, health care included; and in order to thrive in today’s economy, one must go above and beyond. Therefore, stellar health care systems hire experts to manage the key points of customer service and present them to the leaders of the corporation. If those in charge of the overall management of a major health care system do not understand the basic points of what makes great customer service, how can their employees expect to get it-or implement an action plan?

The Underlying Principles of Great Customer Service

Here are some key points that have been researched, through direct patient surveys and marketing queries, and implemented for the importance of maintaining and gaining new clients and providing excellent customer service:

1. Strong health care entities have a mission goal of service to their customers, (the patient and their families), their employees, (satisfied employees create a warm working environment in which the patient is received), and the community, (patients live in the community and know many people who may eventually need the health care services).

2. Effective leaders role model the mission statement and standards and assist their subordinates to support these standards by providing what is necessary to create an above average atmosphere of service.

3. A positive health care work environment respects and values each employee, no matter what level of education; from the front desk receptionist, to the housekeepers, cooks, dietary staff, the technicians, Registered Nurses, pharmacists, and physicians. No one person is exempt from the expectation that they are a contributor to the overall satisfaction of the client during their stay in the hospital.

4. Employees are given opportunities to receive adequate training to carry out the mission standards; opportunities to offer feedback regarding their work experiences; and evaluation on whether they are meeting those standards.

5. A strong health care system is confident in inquiring of their clients, (patients), how they can improve and therefore offers a patient satisfaction survey system.

6. A team attitude, and incentive for improving, is supported through positive, strong support of all department managers.

Customer service training tool

The Success of Great Customer Service in Health Care

It is obvious when a health care system is working within a community because it shows signs of growth. The hospital may get state of the art equipment; they may add wings or new services; new staff is hired; etc. Additionally, the particular health care corporation may be affiliated with a local medical center, which also reflects progress and improvement for services in the community.

How does this growth occur? It happens because of the dynamic flow of energy that is put into that service experience. For example: A patient who visits a doctor and ends up in a hospital for further testing or medical help is not a separate entity. Even if the patient has no other family members in the immediate area, there is bound to be a friend, neighbor, co-worker or church member who will eventually learn about the care the patient received.

In 2008, one survey showed that 50% of new referrals came from patients who had positive care giving experiences. Only one-fourth of the referrals were from physicians in the community. Word of mouth can be the most uplifting tool to increase a health care system’s image as a reputable place to get well…or, it can be its worse enemy, because once the word spreads that tells a tale of bad service, it is very difficult to get that image out of people’s minds. Excellent health care service avoids having to do that to begin with.

Two Registered Nurses

Daughter, Christa-RN, (Home Health), and  Denise, RN, (hospital staff), are always looking for ways to improve customer service
Daughter, Christa-RN, (Home Health), and Denise, RN, (hospital staff), are always looking for ways to improve customer service | Source

How to Improve Customer Service

Here are some important ways to provide excellent customer service in health care:

1. Think of the ‘patient’ as a ‘client’ or customer.

2. On the first encounter: SMILE-a friendly affect goes a long way, especially when emotions tend to run high when there are health issues at stake.

3. Ask your client how she would like to be addressed, and then honor that. When introducing her to other staff let them know of her preference. (On a personal note: whenever I admit a new patient to the unit I observe if they request the use of a nickname and add that to the patient roster, making a point to communicate this information to the oncoming shift).

4. Explain ALL procedures, especially if it is a first time experience.

5. Ask if there are questions-be sure to take the time to answer them and if you do not know the answer, seek the answer or its resource.

6. When dealing with minor patients under the age of 18, talk directly to the child or teen, along with the parents or guardians. This gives an air of respect to the client, as well as ensuring a greater level of participation from the child/teen, in the treatment procedures.

7. Show compassion-this builds trust and a rapport. There is a greater appreciation for understanding and empathy, over task-oriented busyness, which is felt by the client.

8. Be aware of your client’s needs. If he is in the doctor’s office for an extended time period offer a compensation of some sort. The patient will be much more forgiving and it increases the chances for a higher rate of return, along with a positive word of mouth. One way I attempt to be sensitive to a patient’s needs when they have had several hours of waiting in the Emergency room before transferring to our floor, is by checking with the RN who is caring for this person to determine if they were served a meal while they were in that department. I am always surprised at how often this simple, but basic, need is neglected. That allows me to anticipate a need on his arrival to our unit, and preparation to have something on hand.

9. Be friendly, but maintain professionalism. Even if you know the person you are caring for on a personal level, remember that they are there for medical reasons and not social ones.

10. Engage the patient in participating in her treatment; offer choices; carefully listen to what is being said and accommodate, or give thorough reasons and explanations as to why this cannot be met. The more a client/patient actively participates in her treatment, the greater the outcome of satisfaction will be.

11. Provide a safe and comfortable environment of care. Many patients complain of the impersonal, cold treatment that they receive. They are asked personal information; they are often expected to sit in rooms with few cloths or just a paper gown on; they are poked, prodded and palpated, and frequently with cold equipment and little explanation on what to expect. Taking these needs into consideration will improve customer satisfaction.

12. Whenever entering a patient’s room, KNOCK. I can’t begin to tell you how often this simple gesture of politeness and respect is ignored or forgotten.

13. When first meeting a new client: INTRODUCE YOURSELF. Don’t expect the person to take a ‘tell all’ attitude towards the questions you ask while never knowing who the interviewer is! While most physicians have little qualms about doing this, but I have had many experiences as a patient in a new office in which the nurse or medical technician comes in and gets busy taking my vital signs and information, but never introduces herself.

14. Ask your client if there is anything more you can do for them before leaving the interview or treatment room-and then follow up with the request.

15. Thank the client for his time.

Health Care Customer Service Poll

In your experience, do you feel that there is enough customer service provided in health care?

See results without voting

Four Customer Service Tips based on the FISH Philosophy

More by this Author

Comments 54 comments

rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

Sorry, you wrote a great hub, but my experiences with the heath care system border on the ridiculous. More and more doctor's offices are becoming part of the individual hospital's grouping. In doing so, the art of sending to specialists for no good reason has started taking place. Inaccuracy in reports have been the norm, sales pitches by doctors before examination or treatment have taken place, and as said, too many unnecessary tests. It seems the goal is not to take care of the patient, but to milk them and the insurance companies for every penny they can get. I'm not blaming the individual nurses for this as they do their best, but the general consensus in my area is that the industry is more concerned about national ratings and profit than the patients. That's the entire reason I've left two doctors, both of whom I was originally happy with, once they became part of a "hospital feeding group." Sad, but true. Your hub is well presented and well done. I just wish it was true in my area. Up & interesting!

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Awww, thanks rcrumple for being my very first commentator. I can completely agree with you on your experience, truly I can. Despite the customer service training we get at the hospital, I do share your frustration and experience as a consumer. Thanks for sharing your experience and the vote Up/I :)

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

its is a great read but I must confess I have to share the same feelings rcrumple feels.. taking nothing away from what you write .. and still voted up bless you

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you, Frank, for reading it through and taking the poll. I appreciate it. I'm so glad I wrote this...it really helps to see the reality of how short the health care service has fallen in meeting the satisfaction and expectation of 'real' people. I'm wondering what can help to improve it? Has it ALWAYS been this way? And, if not, did it start falling apart when, as rcrumple said, the doctors joined up with a 'system' of specialists? It really does make me that much more curious now about this. Thanks for the vote up. :)

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

Denise, hi just Customer Service in the Health Care industry has become a numbers game.. My Grandmother is no longer Ms Atanacio she is now referred to as 113705-01.. cold, calculated and yet they are still professional... I don't know maybe because we have so many people living longer and the world is overpopulated cracks happen hmm but nevertheless I did enjoy your hub Frank

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

As much as the US healthcare system is in bad need of repair, I rise up in defense of nurses who on ons side are charged as patient advocates, with knowledge, caring for that very difficult patient in a way to give the patient what he needs while not compromising the nurse's integrity, standards of practice and customer service (to say the least of their duties). They need to balance this with the demands of a health care system that requires more and more of their time away from the patients who they went into the profession to serve. Great Hub! Annie RN

lizcosline profile image

lizcosline 4 years ago from Wyncote,Pa.

Appreciate your thoughts Denise. It's all about the cutomer and healthcare has special challenges. Be great to chat sometime. Customer excellence is a passion of mine.

Amazing days to you!!

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Hi Denise,

Sure, I agree that Customer service with regards to calling in for a registered nurse is good. They answer all your queries patiently. I remember when I had my first kid and would call in with simple issues; their first question would be, " is this your first kid" lol

However, when I was admitted for my delivery. The first day was good but second day, the nurses would avoid my queries etc. So, can't really rate them along those lines.

Well addressed hub. voted up as useful

Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois

Dee as the others have mentioned your hub is very well written not only from the research you've done but more, from your own experience. Your one point about showing compassion and empathy for the patient (#7) can go a long way in ameliorating a situation. It's the feeling of being HEARD by a nurse, NP, even the receptionist or intake person. Voted up and useful, interesting and awesome.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

You are right on all points here. I do like your list and personally identify with Item #7 about compassion. I think that is missing big time in the health industry. Your video is awesome. I like the idea of choosing my attitude for the day. Today, I choose to be happy, happy, happy. Excellent hub.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

I guess I have been fortunate as I have some very good doctors and have been treated very well. Since I have some serious health problems, but I am also a retired RN and know whether I am receiving appropriate care. I think you wrote an excellent article.

Brownie83 profile image

Brownie83 4 years ago from Arvada, Colorado

Excellent article. It's unfortunate that our healthcare industry makes us lose our compassion and genuine sincerity as we have to be focused on EMR's, productivity, and incidental overtime rather than the actual patient. You remind us that each day we need to remember to use that golden rule and treat the patient the way that we would want to be treated; with compassionate care and dignity.

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Derdriu 4 years ago

Denise, It's like medicine has come full circle from the personalism of the country doctor to the impersonalism of institutionalized medicine to personalized professionalism with a growing customer base and equally growing customer satisfaction.

It definitely sounds a win-win situation ... when it's practiced the way you do it and write about it!

Respectfully, and with many thanks and all the votes, Derdriu

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Frank-I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I'm delighted that this has brought out a discussion. It saddens me that your Grandmother is a number...I thought that was one of the first things we (health care workers) got rid of to change things from impersonal to personal. As far as the rest of corporation behavior-I can appreciate that there is a long way to go when it comes to satisfying the great majority of people. It is difficult NOT to feel jaded by the 'for profit' profits of hospitals and medical centers. Thanks for your additional comments.

TeamRN-Absolutely-I hear you loud and clear. We really are caught between the two, as employees and as advocates. When push comes to shove I advocate even if it means trouble between me and the management. As long as I am following nursing standards and best practice, I don't get overly alarmed...upset and frustrated, yes, but also stubbornly determined to error on the side of pt care and needs. Thanks for commenting.

Hi Liz-thanks...am heading into retreat soon, so I will catch that offer a bit later. Thanks for reading.

Ruchira-I often find myself apologizing for the bad behavior of some nurses. Many don't give the patients the time they need...however, with the changes that have been occurring in the hospitals and medical centers, and the fast paced, increased stress of the medical field, nurses are often overworked, overstressed, and under staffed. At the same time, we are told to smile and make sure that we are meeting ALL of a patients every need and desire. Sometimes, it doesn't seem humanly possible. I believe there is a large amount of burnout from seasoned nurses who work the trenches. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Danette-thanks for your feedback. You bring up a good point about customer service-no matter WHAT the field is. When we are attentive and engaged in what the customer is saying that makes all the difference in the world. Even if we cannot solve the problem or make it better...and, even when the customer knows we cannot solve the problem or make it better for them. Somehow, the very fact that there was an empathetic listener is enough for the problem to diffuse a great deal of the emotional issues that are often attached. It may not make the pain or problem go away, however, it allows for the patient or his family, to feel validated-and that is a key component to customer satisfaction.

Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Denise,

What a comprehensive look at Health Care and customer service! There are so many small things that when administered make a huge difference to your patients/customers, as you pointed out. Interestingly you mentioned finding out the patients preference to what they are called, be it a nickname for example. I always ask that myself to new staff and customers. It irks me no end when people either misspell my name when they have it on forms to begin with or address me with a different christian names. Well done on a great job!!

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Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

I have many nurses in my family. I am not one to mend broken wings or being around the sick, so I preferred working with inmates and wards. I have no problem with the health care I am receiving in retirement because I lived in a rural area for 10 years that had very poor healthcare. I learned a long time ago that nurses specialize in certain areas, and a nurse who has properly chosen the right area/specialty usually does well with clients. I have a cousin who loves to work with ICU patients. Then I have another cousin who prefers to assist in the operating room with very little exposure to patients. Maybe I am one of the lucky ones. My healthcare system is one of the biggest around, but I still have doctors and nurses who know my name and give me excellent care. For a huge outfit, I have been with them for more than two decades. I have no complaints.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Marlene-thank you for your feedback...I know you are a very positive and happy person! :) I responded to Danette's comment about #7 as well, if you want to read that one. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Pamela-from one nurse to another, I understand what you mean. I'm so grateful I have a medical background and although my expertise is mental health, I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I am an RN and it has made a difference in approach and attitude in treatment. Unfortunately, not everyone gets that same treatment or respect. I appreciate your feedback-that means a lot for me to have that validation from one whose knowledge and experience I respect.

Brownie-thank you for reading and leaving your thoughtful comments. :)

Hello Derdriu-so good to see you again. :) I appreciate your comments and yes, it has come full circle hasn't it. Thank you.

Hi Suzie-isn't it interesting that you picked that one up and mentioned it. It seems such a small thing, yet it can mean the difference between just another admission to 'being seen'. The other thing I ask my patients, as I apply their ID band on their wrist, is if they are right handed or left. My co-workers thought I was crazy when I started doing this, (they always seem to go to the right wrist automatically), but as I explained-it gets in the way when you want to write or do other things. If it is applied to the opposite wrist than the dominant hand it avoids that problem.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Arlene-that is great that your healthcare provider knows you on a personal basis and offers great treatment. And, yes, I understand the situation with 'comfort' in a specialty field. I was thinking of that one day at work. I can do my 'specialty' blindfolded, although my patients wouldn't appreciate it, LOL But, in those cases it is easy to slip into a routine and miss other things that are special...best to stay aware with new eyes and a freshness. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

cherryhathaway profile image

cherryhathaway 4 years ago from New York

Well, I guess my family has been very fortunate to not encounter any concerns to health care. I think we've been going in and out of the hospital and we were getting the kind of services we expected to experience with the doctors, nurses and staffs. I just hope that they maintain the excellence in what they do or improve it even better. Voted up!

ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

You evidently haven't been to a hospital lately.

Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

I have noticed a big difference in the quality of nurses in the state of Florida. The nurses there are outstanding and seem genuinely concerned with their patients.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

ib radmasters--thank you for your comment. You obviously don't know anything about me.

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

What a wonderful world it would be, and it was in the 'Marcus Welby' days., if house calls were the norm and your doc had compassion that knows no bounds. But we've set that aside for more R & D and more efficient and streamlined paradigms.

However, the patient who is treated with the dying art of compassion and integrity and respect, is the patient who needs to be pleased. There are more nurses who have as their # priority-the patient-. Satisfying managements ideals of dotting every i and crossing every 't' is # 2 for most nurses.

Dennis AuBuchon profile image

Dennis AuBuchon 4 years ago

This is a great topic with all the healthcare changes coming in the next few years. You presented great point in a well structured hub. I voted up, pinned and tweeed. Great job.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hello Cherry-I'm glad to know that you and your family has had satisfactory experiences in your health care. I hope this continues for you. Thank you for the vote up.

Hi Lipnancy--that is an interesting observation. (can I ask what state you moved there from?) Thanks for reading.

Hi Teamrn-thanks for your insightful comments.

Hi Dennis, thank you for your feedback. I appreciate your votes and share.

mts1098 profile image

mts1098 4 years ago from InsideTheManCave

Kudos and great points on improving customer service (especially 1 and 3). Two months ago I started a new job as a technician (IT) in an area hospital and the health care professions has some great people - just like hubpages ;)

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

In my personal exoerience I think that things are improving in the health care industry.I grew up in an age when doctors were treated like gods to a largely uneducated public. I have run into some doctors that still think they are gods. Currently I have very good doctors in a clinic situation. An eye clinic I used to go to had very good surgeons and at first were very good with the patients. The problem is their success sort of damaged the customer relations. There was less personal attention and more turnover of doctors and technicians.

The biggest complaint most people have had with doctors is having to wait. I seldom have to wait for very long now..That is an improvement.

A few years ago I had to have a biopsy on a tumor in my lungs and had to wait a long time. When I asked at the desk, I was told that there had been an emergency. I don't mind waiting in that circumstances, but I do resent that they did not notify me and give me an estimate of how long it might take.

Another thing that I don't like is when doctors and nurses talk about me in the third person as if I am not there.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi mts-thanks for reading this and leaving your comments. I've been away for about a week and had no computer access. :) Hope you held down the fort while I was away, Hahaha.

Dahoglund-as I mentioned to mts-I apologize for the delay in my response to your comments. I was out of town and out of computer service. Thanks so much for your insightful feedback. WAITING for any length of time is such an annoyance and a very common problem in doctor and dentist offices. I don't mind a reasonable wait of say, 15 min.,but when it gets into an hour...come on! My dr always apologizes for any wait I've made, however, not the same with his other staff and I resent this. My time is just as valuable and important as theirs. With today's competitive services, Dr offices need to bend over backwards to please us clients.

As for speaking in the third person...I hate that as well. I really cannot Imagine that happening in 'this day and age' and yet it does! Thanks for your input.

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Wow! What a great article about customer service in the healthcare industry.

I was fortunate enough to have FISH training in my last place of employment and it was a fun, effective way to learn about customer service.

I agree that word of mouth is very important and all personnel working in a healthcare setting should treat the patients as clients who deserve great service.

I noticed during my husband's and my mother's last hospitalizations that there was a board at the foot of the bed which had the name of the nurse and aide who were assigned to them each day written in large letters. It helped me know who to ask for when I went to the nurses' desk. Also, they did try to keep the same personnel on consecutive days if possible which I particularly liked.

In my mom's case, a hospitalist physician co-ordinated all her care and that also helped ensure great service.

Am voting this article up across the board except for funny, and will also share it.

Hub Hugs,


Also, I loved the photo of you and Christa.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Gail-thanks for your feedback. I believe the 'magic marker board' must be a national 'customer service' move. We have them on the psychiatric unit where I work, also. Thanks for your feedback and votes/share. (I like that particular photo myself. Christa is a home health care nurse and is doing exemplary work with customer service!)

Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Magnificent topic Denise. I have been on several hospitals on Northern NJ. Customer service have improved in certain facilities, but still was lacking in others. After September 11, we saw big changes in care. More questions and concerns were asked, and staff was truly in charge. Some clinics did have different procedures What is sad, and I saw it (sorry), ounger generations were a little colder than the older nurses and I hope that changes for the better. Thanks for this valuable hub, and your daughter seems to carry the torch of mom's core values.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hello Lord-you are so right in your observations. As an older nurse I am appalled and amazed at the brazen way that younger, new grads approach patients. Maybe it's my imagination, but I wouldn't have dreamed of talking to patients in some of the ways I've observed...not to mention to each other. I spoke with a nursing instructor one afternoon and she mentioned that she gets attitude frequently in the classroom. Another 'no-no' from my generation. When I went to nursing school the instructor was a demi-god and we dared not argue. But, times have really changed! Thank you for your comments about my daughter. She is a dynamite nurse...far better than I can ever hope to be! She used to do ICU, but is now in home health care and is so loved and cherished by both her patients/families/and supervisors. Thanks for your comments.

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

Denise, your mention of the 'brazen way that new grads approach patients' reminds me of my Mom, who was oh, so prim and proper. You didn't mess with Mom. Well, she was hospitalized and her nurse, young new grad, wet behind the ears, green behind the gills, made the mistake of calling my 87 year old Mother, "Helen".

That threw Mom into gear, who replied, I'm Mrs. P to you and I'm NOT 'Helen' to you until I say that you can call me 'Helen.' Even though I'd long before left the practice of nursing, each patient deserved the respect I reserved for my own Mother. There was no 'divertivulitis' in room 308, or talking about the patient like he weren't there. RESPECT, ADVOCACY.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Annie-I can completely relate and bully for your mom for speaking her mind. I cringe every time the young sales clerk behind the Best Buy desk rings up my order and repeats, "okay sweetie" Geeze, I didn't realize we were so intimate! LOL

I detest the talking around the patient in a room. Respect is what it is all about. Thanks for swinging by and leaving a comment. :)

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

LOLOL! Then you must love it when the MA at the docs office says, "hon, and what are we here for today?" Annie

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

LOL Oh, yeah...that really goes over big, too! haha. What's really sad is that I am 'that age' the kids think is 'old' LOL

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

I found myself talking about that to my 35 year old PT the other day. when he remarked about a 90 year old patient. His comment was something like 'bless her heart, s he never misses a session as old as she is.'

My response to him was, "how OLD is OLD? I'm closer in age to her, than you.!"

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

LOL Good for you! Yes...it's hard to believe that I am at that 'other end of the spectrum' that I used to think was ancient, haha.

I work with a group of young grads who whip around the place like crazy and wonder why (after almost 30 yrs of nursing) I c/o of arthritis aches. :) Someday...

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

that begs the question, "Oh, to be young again!" How about, "could I be wis (like I am now) but still have the vitality of youth? Then again, I dno't think I'd want to be walking into this world!

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

I agree...I think of my own grandchildren and just say many prayers!

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago

Denise , My daughter is also an RN. in North Carolina and we talk about this stuff a lot , as I tell her . A nurse is probably the most honorable service a woman [or guy ]can perform . The incredible gift of 'giving " to others is soo commendable as to be saint like !........awesome hub !

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

That's amazing that your daughter is in NC and an RN. What area is she in, if you don't mind my asking. I think the nursing profession, along with the teaching profession, does not get the respect it deserves, but I'm not sure about the 'sainthood' lol. Frankly, after 28 years of nursing I am a bit burned out. As your daughter has probably experienced, the demands are greater and the staffing decreased in most areas-more with less.

Thanks for stopping in-glad you enjoyed the hub.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

This topic is important and I've come close to writing about it recently, but I'm still too overwhelmed by what I've seen in trying to help relatives navigate the medical community over the past few years. I'm glad to see this hub and to see that you've opened up discussion about it--again, so important.

The amount of respect I have for nurses and other medical professionals who do their jobs as they should be done is immense. I don't comprehend their ability to work so intimately with a wide range of people (both patients and co-workers) so they have my admiration.

It seems that the real professionals in the world of medicine have to deal with a lot of coworkers whose thinking about their jobs and about the patients is degraded by a general break down in society of even a sense of what's right and wrong.

As well, those same true professionals must figure out on a patient by patient basis how to deal with clients (and their family members) whose thinking about what is right and wrong is so diminished that they have no skills for dealing with their health issues (which may largely be due to lifestyle choices).

When the best employees in a medical facility are overworked in obviously understaffed conditions and much of the staff they do work with are more trouble than help because of their selfish attitudes and their own poor health habits, the risks involved in getting needed care can be scary.

Well, that's my two-cents worth for now. It will be interesting to see how this discussion evolves. Thanks for posting helpful (and needed) tips on how to improve customer service in the health care system.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi RTalloni-this is such a sensitive and 'hot' topic. I, myself, get upset when I have nursing staff who walk into the room, begin to ask me questions or take my vital signs, without so much as introducing themselves and what their role may be-nurse? medical technician? etc.

But, this is only the beginning. I am always thrilled when I have someone in the medical profession, at any level of service, who go that extra mile of problem solving or just making things more pleasant.

Working on the 'floor' of a hospital has burned me out. I've been off work for awhile and know I need to go back at some point, but not liking the idea of hospital work.

I get tired of the stories I hear of 'human error' when things go wrong, but can relate to how easily this may happen. I dislike the disconnection that occurs between the medical professionals and the patients. Then, everything changes when it's a VIP situation - for example, if there is a doctor who becomes a patient...or the family member of a doctor on staff.

There are so many problems: the over charging of medicine from pharmaceutical companies, the health care availability and differences between those who have insurance and those who do not, the cost of medicine-tell me why a medication must cost over $500? My nephew's medication for 30 days = $500. I told them to keep it and he was able to get help through a social service program.

I had lab tests done two months ago and never got the results. When I returned to inquire I was told that they were taken in the wrong tube and needed to be redrawn-really? Two months later and you are just telling me this after I returned to you? That wasn't the end of the problem...I spoke to the manager of the department who apologized and reassured me profusely that it would not happen again. It did. I called him again to complain. It was ridiculous. As a nurse I get frustrated with this junk, but I can only imagine the frustration lay people have with it. Take care, and thanks for commenting. Please write your own hub about your experiences.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you, Healthexplorer, for your feedback about this subject. Have a good week.

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

Denise, "Hi RTalloni-this is such a sensitive and 'hot' topic. I, myself, get upset when I have nursing staff who walk into the room, begin to ask me questions or take my vital signs, without so much as introducing themselves and what their role may be-nurse? medical technician? etc."

That is simply unprofessional behavior and SHOULD b reported.

About lab tests, the results of which weren't received, it is my opinion that the patient bears some responsibility here (unless the patient wasn't able to know what was being said there,). Gone are the days when Marcus Welby would hold your hand and nurture those lane results until they were explained to you so that YOU'D understand.

I feel the patient should contact the doctor/doctor's office about not having received the results. This is not the doctor's body that we're talking about. IT IS OURS and we're responsible for running the show.

We can abdicate that responsibility and never get those results back and then have to have the bloodwork done again. That's a pain. Yes, the doctor may have overlooked it and people don't like to hear that the doc is HUMAN, but yes, he puts his pants on one leg at a time and doesn't fly.

But, what if the patient doesn't have a clue? Tough love, yes, but our culture is raising a bunch of ninnies who like the 'cop-out' of "it wasn't my responsibility"-when it is their body.

I think as Americans we need to discuss; do we want a 21st century health paradigm where the consumer takes AS MUCH responsibility for his health-under the guidance of his physician- or

do we want a system where everything the doc says is the Biblical truth, each patient has nothing to say about his care and learns the victim role well. This is a LONG overdue debate, but we need to decide, not have Washington decide for us, WHAT KIND of paradigm we'd like.

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

I misspoke: " what if the patient doesn't have a clue? " That is an exception, not the rule. The majority of patients are quite capable of following their health, possibly with minimal understanding, but there's SOME understanding that can be had.

"The patient-doesn't-have-a-clue" patient does exist and the doc has a professional responsibility to make sure that that patient doesn't fall through the cracks.

Patients don't have to know the MEANING of the lab results (Denise, I'm using your example, not picking on you!), but they should know that they had a blood test and vaguely what that test was for. That way he has an investment, however small, in his h healthcare: an involvement, and that is a winning team.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi TeamRN, I appreciate your feedback here. While I do agree that it is the patients responsibility to adovocate for themselves, ask questions, and get (lab) results, this is not what typically happens. It may happen when the person is educated, but honestly, many people are not. In my neck of the woods, there are many uneducated people who don't have a good level of comprehension or even a high school education. The area is rural, with much poverty.

In my situation, I went from one dr, who order the labs, to my local hospital, where the labs were drawn and directed to be sent to the dr's office in the other city. Unfortunately, the labs were not even drawn correctly and therefore, the results were not sent out. To make matters worse, there was no communication from the hospital lab dept asking me to come back to redraw the labs. Anyway, I did talk with the dept manager about the situation.

Again, thanks for your feedback.

teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

Denise, oh! I don't mean the patient should try to be in charge or his/her health. I do mean the health care system has a duty to the patient beyond making him well.

That duh is solemn in my judgement and means to teach the patient ways in which he can advocate for himself and promote his own health; knowing full well that his doctor and nurse are right there WITH him, working together as a team.

Too often, the patient expects the doc to do everything; when in fact, those days are gone. It is the responsibility of the healthcare community to teach the patient the pitfall to avoid; all the while that the patient is at the wheel, being guided by the team.

mayodmv profile image

mayodmv 4 years ago from Philippines

Voted this hub up! It gave me great insights on what techniques should I use to improve my relationship with my clients. Kudos!

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

TeamRN-thank you for that clarification. I fully agree with you. I am a firm advocate for teaching independence and knowledge to patients, empowering them with understanding and choices. Thank you for stopping in again. :)

Hello mayodmv-I'm so glad you found the positive in this article that will enhance your work with clients. Thanks for the vote.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi MariaBrown Thank you for your lovely comment and vote up. I appreciate it.

lizcosline profile image

lizcosline 2 years ago from Wyncote,Pa.

Just terrific. And I think that immediate managers can treat frontline employees with respect and the same aspects you speak of so they are inspired to pass it onto the customers.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you lizcosline. Coming from you, with your experience and background really means something to me. I appreciate your comments. :)

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