Patients as customers

"Good morning Kamal! This is Vikram calling from We-don't-really-exist Hospital. I just wanted to let you know that the report for the blood test you were expecting this morning isn't ready yet. So, please don't come all the way to the hospital. We'll call you tomorrow when it's ready."

How nice it would have been if I had got this call from Apollo Hospital on Saturday morning. Of course I didn't get it. And what happened instead? I went all the way to the hospital, about a 45 minute drive in the traffic. I went to Report Collection. They made me wait for half an hour checking all their stuff before telling me that the report had "not reached us". They didn't tell me if its ready or not. It has just "not reached us".

They asked me to check with the lab where I gave the sample. I called the lab. I was told it would take another day. I eventually got the report after two more days. Is it really so difficult to tell your client what you had promised to deliver on a particular date is not yet ready. We would be really taken to task if we treated our clients that way in the software industry!

A couple of days back, I had to walk about a kilometer through a veritable maze of buildings, flights of stairs and elevators to actually give my sample to the "Central Lab". Why, oh why, couldn't the hospital staff transfer the sample?

The way patients are treated by healthcare professionals at times is really shocking. Aren't patients clients at one level? Can we not expect better customer service? Especially when we are paying through our noses?


Unknown said…
I find fault with two things in your blog:

1. Apollo is not a Hospital and never has been. It is a Billing Center which draws suckers through the power or advertising and PR. If you had gone to a decent hospital - Adyar Cancer Institute, CMC Vellore and Madras Medical Mission come to mind - you will not have had the kind of experience that you relate.

2. The software industry is MUCH WORSE than Apollo. It makes promises that it does not how to fulfill. It rarely delivers on time, and when it does, the result is so sub-standard that it has to keep making corrections over several years and has the gaul to charge for it.

Enuf said.
Anonymous said…
Yes I would say software and healthcare should not be compared at all. It is not impossible to live with out software but it is near impossible to live with out proper healthcare.
Anonymous said…
@(Madras Hash & Anonymous) - It's all about usability. it's all about using common sense to make life simple! And be it in health care or software, usability is what makes the difference! So, I don't think it's right to say that we cannot compare software industry with other industries. In fact the more we compare the better it is, because we don't talk as much about usability in any other industry(at least in India)

I guess the way most of us on the technical front (in the software industry) get tuned into usability issues, we look at usability all around us - Kamal's post basically talks about that aspect - to make life simple wherever possible. And this applies to every small thing that we come across on a day to day basis!
Santu said…
Well said Karthik !!
Anonymous said…
I hope the Corporate Hospitals are open to take hints on improving the services,and handle with care in tune with the Ads.
Anonymous said…
I read your blog with much interest. Just an FYI - in the future walk your blood sample or whatever it is if possible to the area where they will test it. Or pay the guy who would take it for you. Trust me this is an endless issue. Also, much better getting ur blood tested at other diagnostic centers. There probably is a solution to this problem, but Apollo is pretty commercial.