One thing I know is the hospital. Not because I’ve worked there or I’ve studied anything to do with clinical settings but because my son has Crohn's disease, my husband has a pre-existing condition and my 85 year old mother has lived with my family for 17 years.Between the three of them, I’ve been to the hospital over a dozen times, maybe close to 20. I’ve learned while the patient may have different symptoms, clinicians seem to share the same approach when dealing with a healthcare crisis. They focus on their job, just as they should. They are specialized experts. While the condition or symptom or pain may be new to us, they have been trained to find a solution.Facts prevail. Data is gathered. Recommendations made.
Each time as I sit and wait for the doctor to tell me what is wrong, my hands sweat. I feel lost, confused and scared. Deep down, I wish I was someplace else. But the doctor focuses with laser sharp precision on the medical issues.My heart just races as we are many times forced to choose a course of action. I may not make my best decisions when my heart is breaking for my loved one. One time, my son was hospitalized when our doctor was out of town. I had never met the doctor recommending surgery and wasn’t even sure she knew my name.Yet, I was supposed to trust her unconditionally. She focused on his diseased intestines, the surgeon on the operation, the anesthetist on keeping the patient asleep.
But who was looking at Gary’s emotional health? Who was helping Gary learn to cope with a chronic life long disease beyond recommending medications that could possible cause cancer down the road? I truly believe they care about their patients. However, the system does not give them the time to spend with us. In the hospital, we never knew when the doctor would arrive. We’d just wait and wait.When they did arrive they often seemed rushed. When Gary had to choose between three different medications, some with harsh side effects, the doctor visited the hospital room for 15 minutes. As he raced through the benefits and risks of each choice, did he know our point of view? Did he ask? I made sure to tell him.
After Gary’s operation, as he rested comfortably the next day, I went to the cafeteria to get some lunch. I saw some of the residents who kept poking Gary awake each day. I was thrilled that the operation was a success and wanted to thank them for their efforts. As I passed one of them on line, he stared down at his tray. I guess I was hoping this refrain didn’t apply as it did in my years as a corporate executive: "It’s business, it’s not personal.”
So from my corporate days, creating high performing teams, I’ll share the secret to my success. LISTEN to the customer and your business, just like your patients, will thrive.
Randi Redmond Oster is an award winning author of newly released Questioning Protocol. She worked in the corporate world as an electrical engineer and a process expert for almost 20 years. Her life – and her work – took a sudden turn when she had to care for her aging parents plus spend a month advocating for her chronically ill son in the hospital. Her Six Sigma skill set, engineering degree and compassion as a mom makes for compelling, engaging and valued sessions.