For all the debate over PPACA, few talk about the law’s effort to improve care delivery, whether it’s rolling out entirely new delivery models or revamping existing ones.
(Maybe it’s because these common sense incremental fixes are hard to argue with – right up there with pre-existing conditions and covering kids until they're 26.)
Another front on this quality-driven offensive tackled hospital readmissions, attacking the revolving door of Medicare patients. And from what I’ve seen, hospitals are taking this seriously.
Just last week, my wife was in the operating room for a fairly routine outpatient procedure that still required general anesthesia. And given my wife’s long, erratic history of allergies, it was enough to put us both on edge.
In the weeks ahead of the procedure, she was encouraged to take part in a pair of web seminars that covered the procedure as well as advanced directive protocols. She received a call from a nurse the week before, walking her through surgery day step by step.
She was also assigned specific nurses for each stage of the procedure – pre-op, surgical and post-op. She knew who would be there at every stage and what her name was – days in advance.
The phone call also covered my wife’s primary areas of concern, which, in her case, happened to be pain management.
Yesterday, another nurse called my wife to not only check on her recovery, but to make sure she was happy with her experience at the hospital.
“It was freaking fantastic,” she responded – with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. (And, no, she did not use the word “freaking.”)
This was nothing short of complete tailored customer experience. Hospitals, it seems, have finally been forced to join the rest of the private business world in caring about customer service.
It was a vastly different experience than even four years ago when Harley was born. Communication was strictly on an as-needed basis, with as much dialogue between us and the staff as a Cormac McCarthy novel. Hell, we didn’t even know we were being admitted until we were already there for something else. And even then, the nurse mentioned it indignantly to my wife through the bathroom door, as if it went without saying, and we were idiots for not realizing it.
Speaking of nurses, we never knew who was going to walk through the door. Granted, we were there for the better part of a week, since my wife’s labor alone dragged on for more than 30 hours, but in retrospect, they could have been a lot better about keeping us informed about staffing changes, especially during such a stressful experience – not that there isn’t a hospital experience that isn’t stressful.
Now, is PPACA responsible for our vastly different hospital experiences? I think so. Certainly not all by itself, but the provider environment is certainly a changed one.
What’s also funny is how suddenly dated the old status quo looks now. How did we tolerate that for so long? And why? Because we had no choice? Because we got what we paid for? That’s crap.
Maybe I’m naïve. I don’t spend a lot of time in hospitals. Maybe I’m late in my revelation, but it’s a damn refreshing change. And for that, and my wife’s care and comfort, I’m damn grateful.