An ER Visit Is More Than Great Care; It Also Requires Great Follow Up

Peter DeHaan, publisher and editorBy Peter L. DeHaan, PhD

Last month I took a trip to the ER – as a patient. It was one of the silly things; I guess that’s why they call them accidents. A series of small decisions throughout my day resulted in a final “oops” at the wrong time and…well, I’ll spare you the details.

My wife drove while I applied pressure to my hand. The ER was empty (great timing on my part), so we were in and out quickly. Ninety minutes later I was back home, doted upon by my sympathetic wife.

From a customer service standpoint, the ER staff did everything right. They were personable, empathic, efficient, supportive – and effective. I bantered with the nurse and complimented the doctor as she stitched me up (six, if you’re interested.) They gave me detailed discharge instructions, answered my questions, and listened as I recapped what I understood them to say.

I expected the proverbial icing on the cake the next day with a follow-up phone call. The call never came. I wish it had, because by then I had another question.

Eight days later I returned to have my stitches removed. To my delight, I saw the same nurse and the same doctor. Everything looked good; the scarring would be minimal. I was in and out in a few minutes.

Would I receive a phone call this time? Nope. They could have called (or emailed, or snail-mailed): “Thank you for using our services; we know you have options in healthcare and appreciate you picking us!”

They also could have called to connect me with a personal physician, since I confessed to not currently having one when they admitted me. What a great way to keep me in their system and do more business with me in the future.

They missed two opportunities: one to better serve me now and another to ensure my future patronage. What a difference just one phone call could have made.

Peter DeHaan is the publisher and editor of Medical Call Center News and AnswerStat magazine.

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