Saturday, 17 August 2013

HCLDR Chat and Healthcare Mystery Shopping

Feedback from consumers and providers is a great way to make an organization work better for everyone. Once you start thinking about using these insights great changes can occur -- if there is a will to use it.

This should work in healthcare. A great discussion about the topic of patient feedback can be found here in a transcript of the #HCLDR tweetchat from Tuesday August 13 at 8:30 pm EDT. Below are the top 10 participants by mentions.

I had a different type of experience in feedback after my diagnosis with RA. When my symptoms improved I noticed a small ad in a newspaper looking for part-time mystery shoppers. I answered the ad and a meeting was set up by the coordinator at a restaurant near me. Despite being somewhat dubious I accepted the job.
It was purely corporate information gathering for the purpose of quality control at a distance. I felt sneaky, like a gumshoe doing a job, but in an underhanded way.  At least the experience in critical evaluation and customer service was invaluable.

My assignment was to go to certain walk-in medical clinics as a new patient and evaluate all aspects of the experience. These included the signage and accessibility, and the staff from receptionist to doctor. The thought of evaluating doctors was totally new to me, and a little daunting. I was not sure it would be easy to critique authority.

In the Canadian health care system my Health Card would normally enable me to walk in, show the card and see the doctor. This job though was being done for a corporation doing market research so I needed a story that let me pay cash for the visit.

I said I had recently moved from Quebec to Ontario and had no Ontario Health card. This way I had to pay.  Letting Ontario tax dollars pay for my "care" would have been fraudulent.

Part of the job was phoning each clinic from a list I was given and asking questions. I felt sure some of the receptionists were able to tell I was a designated shopper.  One was rude and silly on the phone and I understand he was subsequently replaced.

I would love to give useful feedback about many of the healthcare facilities I see now. Cleanliness, signage, friendliness,efficiency and neatness were among the areas rated in that past job. The compliments would probably outweigh the complaints but I see things that could easily be improved.

Some of the doctors were outstanding.  Those who impressed me most showed interest by asking more questions. They involved me in my story instead of taking it at face value and sending me away with a prescription. The good ones seemed to want me to leave with more knowledge than I had at the start of the appointment

RA was a convenient reason for seeing the doctors. I told one I was taking 9 aspirin per day. He told me he personally would always take coated aspirins to protect his stomach. 
 with ring splints
Another time I told the doctor I was depressed because I had actually felt that way after my diagnosis. That did not work so well. Even though the story hung together the doctor commented that I was smiling more than he would expect to see in a depressed patient. He was right. I was having fun doing the mystery shopping because I found it so interesting at the time. 

Now the chain of clinics is gone but it left behind an interesting memory for me.


  1. Did you know that the humble Aspirin is making its way to patients who recently had hip surgery? The pill is known to prevent blood clot, a common occurrence after a major surgery.

  2. Thanks for the comment Ada. I did not know that aspirin was used after hip surgery. I have heard that it prevents clots. My husband takes a low dose daily for his heart.