CommunicationCustomer service

Ever have a bad healthcare experience? I just did.

By March 7, 2017December 8th, 2019No Comments

I was reminded again last week how critical good communication is in the workplace. And it was all because of a lack thereof.

Ever heard of a “bunionette”? (No, it’s not an appetizer)

Several months ago, I saw an orthopedic surgeon about bunionettes on my feet. Not pretty but, ladies, that’s the reality of genetics and wearing high heels. This doctor recommended a bilateral procedure (bunionettes removed from both my feet at the same time, virtually leaving me immobile for a couple of weeks. I said, no thanks, I’ll go with just one for now.

Upon his direction, I called his office six weeks prior to when I wanted this day-surgery done. When I spoke to his receptionist, I didn’t even realize what I didn’t know.

This is where it started going wrong … and it wasn’t the doctor.

During this conversation, I asked this receptionist if I needed to buy anything before the surgery, in preparation for the post-op recovery. Did I need to buy a medical boot? crutches? Did I need to elevate the foot? How long is the recoup period? I had a bunch of questions!

She provided a few answers and then reassured me by saying, “I’ll send you all the information you need about a week before the procedure”. Perfect, I thought. And so I waited.

Three days before the surgery, I’d received nothing. I called the doctor’s office explaining the situation and that I had a ton of questions and concerns. She replied with a question herself asking if I had made my appointment while in the doctor’s office during the consultation, or if I had called in the request for a surgery date. I said the latter to which she explained that, had I been in the office when I scheduled, she would have handed me some papers with everything I needed to know. Apparently, there was no followup procedure for phone-in appointments.

To her credit, the receptionist answered what she could, but couldn’t answer the medical ones like, “Will the doctor be putting in a pin or not?”. No idea. Humph.

The end result? I hung up the phone wondering if I should even go to the appointment.

If this is the way this doctor communicated with his patients, it did absolutely nothing to instill faith and trust. He may be the best surgeon in the world, but if there is zero communication, it means nothing if the patient is too scared and uninformed to show up for the procedure.

As it turns out, the procedure went well. I go this Thursday (a week after the surgery) for the first inspection when the doc will decide if it’s time to take out the staples or not. Really, this procedure is no big deal. Mind you, I did have a terrible reaction to the first bout of painkillers that landed me in the ER the first night, but apart from that, everything has been going smoothly and healing is well on its way.

So, what points did I learn from all this that you might find useful in your interactions with internal and external clients?

Here’s a few …

PRE-EVENT COMMUNICATION: Whether a medical procedure or a special event, someone attending or affected by this event needs to know enough information in advance that they can properly plan and manage expectations;
Doing this not only is operationally (no pun intended) useful, it builds trust and confidence in you and your services ( your “event”). A huge bonus is that communication also builds relationships and rapport. All this contributes to an experience that the end-user will be pleased to tell others. And THAT helps you and yours.

QUESTION: what would you recommend to this receptionist and doctor? What do you think they should do differently?

Please post your comments on my blog below. I can’t wait to hear your suggestions.

Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author

© 2017 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

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Communication specialist, author, professional speaker Marion Grobb Finkelstein teaches individuals and organizations across Canada and beyond, how to improve morale, confidence and productivity by changing how they communicate. Chat with her at and sign up for her FREE weekly “Marion’s Communication Tips” at

LET’S GET THE CONVO STARTED! Post your comments and reactions below. There are no right or wrong responses, just honest, respectful ones. I’d love to hear your opinion. What about this article resonated with YOU?

Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.

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