One of the best ways to learn about the hospital experience? Talk to people who have recently experienced it. When a friend spent the evening in the ER with her five year old daughter in August, she took the time to share the good, the bad and the ugly of a night in the ER. Her daughter, who has an allergic reaction to fire ant bites, ended up being fine but the experience left some lasting impressions … some good, some not so good.
- There was a separate waiting room from main ER just for kids, complete with kids’ movie/tv and separate bathroom.
- If I had wanted her to be monitored, they would have kept her longer. Nice, but she was fine and I was ready to get out.
- Check out took two minutes.
- As a parent, I felt like an idiot because I did not know where to go or which entrance to use. I wasted 15 minutes parking in the wrong lot and running thru the hospital thru the wrong entrance.
- Everyone starts and waits in the same kids-only waiting room: broken bones, concussions, swine flu, stomach ailments, blood dripping down leg, poison, etc.
- Triage nurse sees everyone first to determine how severe and to assess the ailment. Then back to the waiting room until called back to see doctor which was really more waiting.
- I am not a germ-phobe, but it was gross. And it felt like everyone in there had the swine flu. They did pass out masks which is disconcerting to walk in and see 75% of people wearing masks.
- I about passed out when I heard a nurse yell, “I have a 4 year old amputee in Room B!”
- The check-in people were NOT customer service driven. Meaning, we are here for paperwork only, ma’am. No questions, no how much longer, no updates.
In the end, their scenario wasn’t bad, “Just a long wait in a gross waiting room. I felt for the parents who had the child with the bloody leg or who swallowed chorine tablets and had to wait like us. You really have to arrive without a pulse or in full trauma to be seen right away.”
This is one experience, but it echoes what we’ve heard from ER focus group participants.
While some things about the ER experience cannot change, there are touchpoints and services that can be addressed. And solutions don’t have to be elaborate. Simple updates of progress or some form of communication can make a long wait seem less endless. More frequent rounds by housekeeping staff can keep a much-used area of the hospital clean.
The reality is you may only have one chance to give a healthcare decision maker a first impression of your hospital or practice. Whether it’s in the ER, outpatient surgery or diagnostics, you have to make the most of it if you want her to come back again.