As four days of the last week were spent at a hospital, the discharge process is fresh in my mind 🙂 and yes every person I spoke to about it has had similar or worse experiences. So am not going to name the hospital where Krishnan’s disc prolapse was treated because the challenges with this process exist in all hospitals. First and foremost, as Mohit would say – the doctor was awesome, the nursing staff was brilliant, the housekeeping staff kept the hospital really clean and the food was so good that we suggested they should start home delivery !! Then it was time to get discharged … I had read in the terms and conditions that the process would take upto four hours. So I was told that it has been initiated at 1.30 and we should be able to leave around 4. Now, me being me, called Nisha to come pick us up by 3.30… And I went and checked at 3.30 to be told that it will happen by 4 and that just one item was missing. Till 5.30 nothing happened and then I went again and was told it will get done in 30 mins – I didn’t want another day’s stay to be charged so I asked guest relations if they won’t charge me and there was no affirmative answer that they won’t and then I got bugged …. Four hours and still the paperwork was not complete ! Ok at 6 it got completed and then came the bummer – the TPA (third party administrator, for Insurance) approval was to take another couple of hours !!!!!! Krishnan was still feeling uncomfortable as this discharge was the first one before the surgery so I got really antsy, because Nisha was getting late and two more hours seemed really criminal. So I told the TPA desk that I will sit in the hospital and can they let my friend drop Krishnan home and that was refused too – finally a friend intervened and we got home around 8.
The second time after the surgery, guess the previous round had been discussed in detail so all documentation got done, TPA approval happened, but the billing team got us delayed by not getting the refund cheque process right 🙂 I again created a scene and finally that also got done and we got the discharge done in 3 hours. I told the guest relations lady that their discharge process will create a lot of angst and it almost negates the excellent efforts of the doctors and nurses. The patient gets well and the attendants get unwell due to the discharge process. When I shared this with another friend, he said in a different hospital it had taken him just 8 hours for discharge, another person mentioned that it took 9 hours and so on …. Am yet to come across anyone saying the discharge process is easy and pleasant ! I remember when dad was in the hospital, we gave a list of 33 improvement ideas the day we were getting him discharged and this was in Bangalore.
Before we jump on hospitals and say they need to fix their discharge process, think of what you do as farewell for an attrited colleague in your companies 🙂 we do no better. Infact it’s a nightmare to attrite from an organization, if it’s a small company, you might not get a month’s salary, if it’s a large well established company, the process will kill you, atleast maim you psychologically ! Many colleagues do not want to rejoin when they think of how they got treated on their last working day. Suddenly you are no longer relevant or important and you feel strange meeting people in the corridors when you go back to collect your F&F (full and final) cheque. A CEO once mentioned to my team and I – that employees remember only two days vividly, the day they join and their farewell. We immediately made some changes in the way we welcomed new colleagues and even more importantly how we let go of people.
I remember dad’s farewell in every posting of his – the party, the mementoes are still safe at home, the people who would come to the railway station and wish dad well, it was all very special. The armed forces have a great tradition of elaborate farewells which should be adopted by the corporate world. I remember my first day at work in a couple of organizations that I have worked in .. But just one farewell – when I left my first job to get married. Can’t remember any other farewells – some last working days were stressful and some were just inane. Many times managers assume that once the person has quit, how does it matter – it matters even more because he or she has a big group of friends who might want to join your firm, or the same ex-colleague may want to rejoin or even better, he or she may bring you new business.
At hospitals it’s even more critical – while patients go with referrals for a particular doctor depending on their particular illness, they also get affected by the rest of the support processes and discharge is a big one. Both corporate houses and hospitals need to think about both the welcome and farewell processes. In companies, the existing employee is watching how you treat an outgoing employee – do you value their contribution and celebrate their time in the firm or do you just ignore them… In hospitals somehow it feels that everyone is happy to get an admission and they should ensure the patient leaves happily after being treated successfully.
One line summary – celebrate entry and exit and make both special 🙂