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Tough love for patients

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Micah Solomon writes about  the need to apply a “customer isn’t always right” approach in healthcare:

“My friend Dr. James Merlino uses the example of encouraging post-surgical patient to get up and walk as soon as possible, in spite of the temporary misery (and resistance) it brings to and on the part of the customer/patient. And, of course, there’s the importance of refusing to coddle a patient who thinks pizza is a vegetable or the one who thinks half a pack a day is an appropriate example of moderation.

But  “even though the customer’s not always right in these situations, it doesn’t give us cause to jerk around the customers in other parts of their institutional customer experience. Not for profit institutions need to develop every bit as high a standard for how they serve customers as do commercial operations. Because inefficiency, rudeness, and an attitude of ‘that’s how we do things around here, take it or leave it’  isn’t going to help any patient heal, or any student excel. It just gets in the way.

“What will help is coupling a tough love approach with a commitment to courtesy, streamlining, and taking the patient’s, or student’s, point of view. Of figuring out ways to be more responsive, more available. Of making use of what private industry can teach us: not just benchmarking other schools or other hospitals, but great hotels and great retailers. Not because healthcare and education will ever be precisely analogous to such operations, but because benchmarking outside your own industry is often the best way to improve by leaps and bounds.”

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