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Perspectives from the Invisible Husband

Posted By Emily D. Tisdale, Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Updated: Sunday, November 17, 2013

My husband did not care for my former obstetrician.

When we found out that we were pregnant with our first child, I scheduled get-acquainted visits and selected the doctor I liked. Over the course of my pregnancy, he accompanied me to appointments and we tackled the journey together.

The birth of our son was stressful to say the least. Going into labor three weeks early and enduring a long labor process that ultimately resulted in an emergency C-section left our emotions raw. But, life went on and we moved forward as new parents.

Fast forward four years later as we’re expecting our second child. As I talked about getting in touch with the doctor that delivered our son, my usually calm husband became wildly animated.

"Ohhhh no, we can’t go back to her. She was awful!”

What? I searched my memory for instances that would have led him to have such a negative reaction.

"It’s like I was invisible,” he continued. "Of course, you and the baby are the most important part of all of this but she never even looked my way. I had to ask my questions as she was walking out the door!”

As I thought back through all of the appointments, I realized he was right. She never addressed him or asked if he had any questions or concerns during our appointments; she only focused on me. And while focusing on me (the patient) was good, including my husband (the family member) in the process would have been even better.

The patient experience has an impact on so many levels and is undoubtedly an important starting point. From the patient perspective, I thought everything was fine. However, when my husband brought up his concerns, I realized that healthcare experience – considering the needs of both the patient and their loved ones – must be what healthcare organizations consider as best practice.

As a new dad and my primary caretaker post-delivery, my husband had a number of questions and anxieties that he needed addressed. My doctor, as good as she was to me, failed to engage my husband in the process. How many times have other well-meaning providers delivered a good patient experience only to stop there? How much more could the experience be enhanced if loved ones were considered as an integral part of the equation?

The most successful healthcare organizations have initiatives in place to support not just the patient, but also the patient’s support network of family and friends. These touches, while often overlooked, can make a major impact on the patient’s peace of mind and overall experience.

Like other parents, we knew better the second time around on so many things. When we learned that we were expecting our second child, we made certain to select the doctor we felt would address both of our needs and ensure a true healthcare experience.

Emily D. Tisdale is the Founder & Principal Consultant of Recourse Resource Consulting, a healthcare experience firm based in Indianapolis, IN. Emily and her team partner with healthcare organizations to produce sustainable outcomes in patient experience, employee engagement, and marketing.

Tags:  experience  family engagement  healthcare  patient experience  physician 

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