My wife and I are excitedly expecting our first son around the beginning of April. I am getting a first hand experience of what it is like to be a “customer” of a hospital experience and it makes me realize how Lean can really help.
- Effects of on-call: My wife’s OB advised that she can not guarantee she will be the one to deliver our child due to the fact that the little boy can arrive at any time of the day (understandable). There are 4 other doctors that would be covering for her if she is not available and we would have to schedule appointments if we wanted to meet them prior. As a customer, this adds a complexity and I would prefer a reduced number of on-calls. It would waste the other doctor’s times to meet with us if they did not end up being on-call on birth night. Design the pathway to be simple for the patient.
- Potential rushing: One thing that concerns me is the notion of doctors pushing the birth faster to fit their schedules. I am not sure how true it is, but from interviewing doulas and recent moms, some C-sections are given because the provider has other things to do or wants to go home (two cases as described to me). Our OB said the other day she might do a procedure “to speed things up”. If the patient chooses options to make things faster or it is needed for the health of the mom & baby – go for it. If the hospital system is not flexible enough to allow births to take a natural course (if patient chooses) and requires speeding up artificially, improvement is needed for staffing and room utilization to ensure you are providing value to patients.
- Unpredictability and non-standardized: From conversations it appears as though every experience changes greatly on which nurse you get that day and your provider. Babies and the human body are unpredictable and cause variation but some things CAN be standardized. As a customer, I would feel more confident if it was explained to me that the hospital has a generally predictable practice and have plans in place if the mom shows specific signs. Unpredictability is problamatic too from an insurance perspective since the hospital can not tell us who the expected roles will be to ensure each are covered so we can make an informed choice. As a customer, I would chose a hospital with standardized work over an organization who just tells me “it depends”.
As a hospital customer, are my demands unreasonable? If you work at a hospital, what are your customers wanting? Do you agree or disagree with me that Lean thinking can help the hospital meet my needs?