I suddenly wound up in the hospital a couple weeks ago, dealing with a severe bout of pneumonia.
I’ll spare you a lot of the details, however it basically all started with the trip to the Howard County General Hospital ER in Columbia, MD on a Saturday night after having a severe reaction to something I ate hasta karyolası. Along the way, gastric fluids got into the lungs. Ugh!
The digestive distress passed so quickly, but an alert doctor observed that my vital signs were going downhill fast and determined that pneumonia was setting in quickly. He reversed my heading for discharge, and to my surprise, steered me toward the ICU unit.
Now most of us are aware of the existing national debate on health care reform. And I will not tread into that explosive political arena in this blog.
But as I was in the ER, the ICU and then the normal ward (total stay was 7 days), I did so make numerous marketing observations — both positive and negative, from the perspective of “the client.”
Let me start with saying that I smile when people say if you ask me, “Oh, I wouldn’t be good in sales.” Within my mind, every employee is a salesperson, and most of us should realize the importance of that role.
This is exactly why I’m keen on saying that the receptionist should treat his or her job as “Vice President of First Impressions.” (I didn’t produce that – I obtained that from a seminar I attended 10 years ago with marketer Keith Hatschek, who has since concentrated his work in the music field)
And the thought of “many people are a salesperson” was so obvious if you ask me during my hospital stay at Howard County General.
Think of it. How do we draw our general opinions about whether a hospital is a “good” patient-oriented hospital or “bad” one. Isn’t it surely based on a couple of stories you could have heard from others plus perhaps a personal or family experience or two?
Just what exactly hospital employee does an individual have probably the most contact with from which to conclude whether they’ve had an excellent or bad experience?
Doctors? – not really — we consider them almost as “independents.”
Oahu is the nurses, right?
To prove the point, here’s a common perception in my own Ellicott City, Maryland neighborhood: “Go to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for the best doctor care, but try to avoid staying over as an in-patient.”
Now I was an in-patient at Johns Hopkins over 20 years ago, and I’d an excellent experience. But that negative perception about Hopkins, whether accurate or not, still persists in my own neighborhood. Dig down somewhat, and one learns that it actually stems from conversations at gatherings based on the experiences of merely a some of the neighbors. (Hint: bad news travels fast at neighborhood social events)
OK, considering that my assumption about nurses carrying plenty of marketing power is accurate, I’d have to express my reaction to my experience at Howard General was mixed.
On one hand, I’d exceptional care from an expert nurse named Ellen in ICU (I’ll detail more below).
But on one other hand, there were the ER nurses who got so confused with paperwork and bureaucracy that I was actually “lost” for 2 hours in a corridor waiting for an X-ray. My spouse finally had to invoke something akin to “habeas corpus” to have me retrieved.
The confusion continued as bewilderment with internal procedures caused another ER nurse to delay my dealing with the ICU for 90-minutes. We finally convinced him to just wheel us as much as ICU, and we’d sort all of it out there. Once we arrived, the reception by the ICU staff was like, “Where perhaps you have been? We’ve been waiting for you!” Hmmmm…
Finally, what was I to produce of the nurse who came in during the fifth day of my stay and asked me what I was in for. I thought to myself, “Perhaps you might want to go through the paperwork at the station before arriving to see me?”
But let’s end on a positive. Let me get back to that nurse, Ellen, in ICU. I don’t know her last name (maybe their marketing dept will let me know).
You could tell from first introduction that Ellen enjoyed her job and was aware of the noble service her profession provides.
She was well-informed about my condition from the start.
She was friendly yet firm in making certain I stayed on course toward recovery.
And then another thing — she knew how exactly to strike up a brief conversation with me at just the right moment (straight out of Dale Carnegie’s classic book, “Just how to Win Friends and Influence Others”). We chatted about my daughter and her teenage kids.
Ellen wasn’t the only real exemplory case of positive nursing I experienced during my stay at Howard County General. There were certainly others who were top professionals as well. (For example there was the Asian-American nurse, down in the normal ward, whose name I believe was “Yun?,” who worked efficiently and adroitly, yet unobtrusively, while prepping me for discharge.)
But I believe you receive my point. The best overall “salesperson” for Howard County General Hospital during my experience was the nurse named Ellen in ICU.
Now, a number of you could discount my assertion by replying, “Sure, in ICU, the nursing to patient ratio is 1:2 or even 1:1,…incorrect elsewhere in the hospital.”
OK, I take the point. But I learned in our brief conversations that Ellen had worked in almost every other department during her tenure at the hospital. Something informs me she exhibited exactly the same positive marketing qualities throughout her career.