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It pays for hospitals to keep patients happy

The Seattle Times / Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — For years, the check-in process in the urgent-care center of this city's large, downtown hospital was reminiscent of a visit to the DMV. The ailing and sick walked in, pulled a number, took a seat and waited to be called. Many grew impatient and exasperated. Now, patients at San Francisco General Hospital are greeted by a smiling face and a helping hand to guide them along the path to getting care. It's one of a series of customer-friendly touches being added at the 156-year-old institution by a newly named "chief patient experience officer." "Saying 'Number 32' versus 'Mr. Jones' is dramatically different," said Baljeet Sangha, who holds the new position. "We have to remind ourselves these are people."