Our healthcare system needs a LOT of work

KEY SUMMARY: You can’t understand what it’s like to be a patient until you’re a patient.

A little over three years ago I broke my shoulder riding my bike in downtown Boston. Although I had two surgeries to fix my shoulder I have been dealing with a left hand that has nerve pain since my crash.  In the process I have run into ego centric doctors who kept prescribing me gabapenton and Lyrica (horrible side effects) as well as physicians who just wouldn’t listen to my concerns.

After struggling with nerve pain in my hand, I finally decided to go to a hand specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida.  On the initial visit he said I would probably need surgery but it took 8 months and a lot of tests (MRI’s, EMG, X-Rays) to finally implement the surgical option.

When I reported for surgery, at 8AM, I was taken to a room of beds divided by curtains.  I was told to put on the hospital gown, no underwear please, and get in bed.  That was followed by a confirmation of my procedure and an insertion of an IV.  The only visit I had from a doctor was to talk about the anesthesia.  My doctor did stop by to mark my arm with a magic marker and quickly left.

After an hour I was walked into the OR where I was poked and prodded until I was put to sleep.  I awoke two hours later with a huge cast on my arm and a sore throat even though my doctor told me the opposite (small bandage, no tube in my throat).

A nurses aid quickly gave me two apple juice containers and a package of graham crackers, then got me dressed, read me my post op instructions and wheeled me out front fro my wife to drive me home.  My doctor did bother to talk to me to tell me what he had done, what he found and what was next.

Welcome to healthcare in 2017.

I consider myself an empowered patient, but this was a very humbling experience.  I had thought the Cleveland Clinic was better than this, but I was wrong.  I am the customer, patient, and I wanted, expected, to be treated better.  It should not have taken 8 months to get the surgery scheduled and it would have been nice to talk to my doctor when I woke up so he could tell me what he found and why I am wearing a huge cast on my arm.

You need to experience what it’s like for patients who enter the nightmare that has become our healthcare system so that we can apply an empathetic approach.

DTC marketers could learn a lot by becoming a patient instead of trying to sell them. We need to understand that the healthcare experience is part of the brand just as it is for CPG’s.

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