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customer experience
Shaun Smith
  • By Shaun Smith
  • Jan 04 2009

Customer Experience in The Health Service: Patient by name but not by nature

Whilst on holiday over Christmas I managed to rupture my Achilles tendon playing tennis with my wife. As a result I am sitting here in a leg cast having had surgery to repair the tendon. It has been many years since I was last hospitalised and so I was an interesting opportunity for me to apply my customer experience skills to the health sector at first-hand.

As I lay in my bed recovering from the operation, attached to a machine that bleeped regularly as it tracked various functions including my blood pressure, heart rate and so on, it occurred to me that the one thing that was not being tracked was my satisfaction with the experience. So I decided to create my own ECG but in this instance the acronym doesn’t stand for ‘electrocardiogram’ but rather, ‘experiencecareogram’ - in other words, my satisfaction as a patient with the experience.

So what was my experience like? Well, if you look at my ‘ECG’ graph you will see how my satisfaction levels rose and fell as I experienced each of the major touch-points through my journey. You can think of the mid-point of 5.5 as being neutral. Anything above that point is satisfying; anything below that line is stressful.

ECG - experiencecareogram

My journey as a patient

It began with the initial consultation. I was given an appointment to see a consultant at 09.45 so arrived a few minutes early to find a waiting room full of people. How can this be I thought, the surgery only opened at 09.00? I noticed that patients were being called by number and there was a machine in the entrance offering little numbered tickets. Belatedly I took one only to find out much later that this was for a completely separate process.

Eventually - at 10.30 - I was seen by the consulting doctor. He didn’t introduce himself or explain what he was doing as he examined me. He simply announced that I had a ruptured Achilles tendon and that there were two ways of treating it ‘conservative’ or ‘surgical’ which did I prefer, without explaining the implications (political or otherwise) of either? Having asked and been told that ‘surgical’ was likely to produce a faster recovery I elected for that. I was then told I needed to see “the junior doctor”. I am all for delegation but not when it comes to operating on my leg.

I’ve written a full article that takes this blog post further, analyzing my experience as a patient and applying behavioural science to improving it.

The piece looks at how to apply Daniel Kahneman’s Peak-End Rule, and the Five Experience Rules that Chase and Dasu elaborated on and which all organizations, but particularly hospitals in this case, could learn from in improving the customer - in this case the patient - experience. To download the article, click on this link:

patient-by-name-jan5-full-article