Over the holidays I ended up in urgent care when my helpful husband suffered a bad burn due to a scalding accident. Let’s just say cooking garlic mashed potatoes for 35 dinner guests requires using lots of heavy pots filled with boiling water, and the lids aren’t always as secure as you think they are.
We’ve invested in bandages and ointment and he’s healing well, but I couldn’t help think that an already unpleasant experience could have avoided being even more unpleasant if the clinic had taken advantage of mobile phone technologies and paid attention to their web presence.
Earlier in the week while shopping in our relatively small town (35,000), we had noticed a new banner sign for an urgent care clinic on a brand new building. My husband and I both commented on how it was needed, as there was only one very small urgent care clinic in town.
Impressive-looking new urgent care center in town
I was impressed that it had an imaging center attached to it, because our town has an extremely active youth sports program and those types of injuries often require driving to the next town for imaging services (been there, done that, not fun).
However, no matter how new and beautiful a new facility is, if you walk in and it’s filled with people with the identifiable “seal bark” whooping cough, you really don’t want to be sitting next to them.
Add to that the sniffling, sneezing and overall misery index of the people in the crowded wait room (an estimated 1.5 hour wait time), and you begin to question how bad a burn you really have. That was the scene when we arrived.
How about trying the other urgent care center?
We left the clinic and headed to the smaller urgent care center. I checked via my cell phone to make sure of the smaller clinics hours and to confirm the address. According to their website, the clinic should have been open, so we headed to the other side of town.
When we arrived, there was a sign posted on the window – seems they had moved to the new facility…we had not realized they were one and the same! And their website had no indication of that, either! So back we went to the unpleasantness of the whooping cough waiting room.
Sitting there, I thought about the Great Clips commercial where the husband is “jazzercising” when the wife expected him to be getting his haircut. He explained he had checked-in online. I thought, why couldn’t we check-in online and avoid the whopping cough waiting room?
Improve patient experiences
Hospitals and clinics could improve patient experience by being as proactive in adopting technologies as other industries. I know hospital systems, like HCA, have adopted text ER wait time notification systems, but consider additional steps to improve patient experience.
If the clinic we visited had adopted available technologies, this is what our experience may have looked liked:
What could have happened:
As we walk up to the clinic, a sign on the door directs us to a smart phone app or website that explains their new mobile features – giving us the opportunity to avoid the long wait in the waiting room.
We could have used the app or website to: 1) be notified of the approximate wait times, 2) check in, 3) check to see if the new clinic accepted our insurance – all without entering the whopping cough waiting room.
We could have requested an alert be sent to us 15 minutes prior to the appointment (since it takes us 10 minutes to drive to the clinic) or waited outside or in our car until the clinic sent us a text to inform us that a room was available.
You can imagine the story we will tell others
If this all seems like a lot of work on the part of the clinic, many of these systems are automated, freeing up the receptionist to be even more attentive to patients who are in the clinic. The receptionist’s job satisfaction would also increase because he or she would not have to deal with so many patients expressing frustration over long waits in unpleasant surroundings.
For the record, my husband and I did not take out our frustration on the receptionist, but you can bet we’ll recount our whooping cough waiting room experience when one of our friends or acquaintances says, “Did you see they’ve built a beautiful, new urgent care center in town?”
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