Hospital Patients Deserve and Expect MAGIC® Care
By Jeremiah Walsh
A recent Harvard Business Review study revealed that patients look most for competence, caring and integrity when choosing a medical facility. Furthermore, when they find a facility that meets their expectations, they not only tell others, but they also become loyal customers.
At some point in each of our lifetimes, treatment at a hospital is likely and it can be a very stressful time. When we enter a hospital for treatment, we expect more than just being treated nicely—we expect that hospital staff will understand our pain and nervousness. Illness and suffering can easily trigger fear, anxiety, sorrow or similar emotions. It is a time when we want, and need, to experience MAGIC. Unfortunately, this does not always occur.
A Personal Incident that Needed Care and Attention
My wife occasionally suffers from migraine headaches. Recently, she had one that was so painful and debilitating that I called her doctor. It was nighttime and the covering doctor instructed me to quickly take her to the local hospital emergency room for treatment.
It took only a few minutes to drive to the local community hospital. As we reached the emergency room entrance, a valet parking attendant gently helped my wife out of the car and into a wheelchair. As he handed me a receipt, he told me that he would take care of my car (now, that was MAGIC).
A Potentially MAGIC Interaction Turns “Tragic”
I wheeled my wife through the door and over to the admission desk. I was greeted by the not so cheerful clerk behind the desk, “Just put her over there while I get your information,” referring to the waiting room through two glass doors. A migraine headache creates an increased sensitivity to light, noise and odor. The crowded waiting room had all three of these—bright florescent lights, a loud TV showing Jeopardy and distinct smells from medicines, perfumes and sweaty bodies.
I explained my wife's condition and sensitivities and asked for a quieter area away from the noise and lights. I was told in a monotone and indifferent voice, “You will just have to stay in the waiting area until your wife's name is called.” Each half-hour I politely inquired as to how much longer we had to wait and each time I was told with the same indifferent voice, “There are other people ahead of you. Just wait for her name to be called.”
After two hours, my wife's name was finally called and another clerk wheeled her to a cubicle to enter insurance information. There, we met another voice of indifference – this one asking routine questions while filling in the screen on the computer. She did not even acknowledge my wife's condition or ask how she was feeling.
When the clerk had completed filling in the appropriate forms, she began wheeling my wife down a hallway—silently—not giving me any indication of where we were going. We stopped near the nurse's station and she moved the wheelchair against a wall and said, “Wait here.” Disconcerted, I was now standing with the others that were in the waiting room an hour earlier.
A MAGIC Encounter Provides Reassurance and Comfort
While waiting, an Aide was walking past and I asked him if there was a gurney available so that my wife could lie down. To my pleasant surprise, he left and returned in 30 seconds with a gurney, clean sheets, a blanket and a pillow in hand. He helped my wife onto the gurney and moved us to a quieter area. He then assured us that a nurse would be there soon and explained that there had been a couple of ambulance admissions earlier that tied up the entire staff.
Leaning over the gurney, he asked my wife if she could hold on a little longer. What a caring person and a MAGIC touch. I let him know how much I appreciated his attention and care toward my wife.
Bring MAGIC into Every Interaction and Increase Patient Satisfaction
Patients and their family members feel enough anxiety and stress going into a hospital without having members of the hospital staff add to it. Similar to the caring Aide who helped my wife, some individuals can immediately sense and recognize a customer's need and act with urgency to assist them. In doing so, they calm our nerves and lessen our focus on the pain. The Aide I encountered demonstrated the skills of MAGIC – he respected both the patient and guest, and demonstrated accountability toward our need, and he wasn't even the one who would be treating us.
Every person on a hospital staff has the capacity to demonstrate similar MAGIC behaviors, no matter what their role. Share the following 6 keys to MAGIC interactions with your staff to ensure patient satisfaction (and loyalty) at your hospital.
- Greet each patient and guest warmly
- Listen with respect
- Give words of empathy and understanding
- Provide personal treatment—use people's names
- Give assurance that someone cares about their need
- Ask permission before any actions are taken
Patient satisfaction is more important than ever, especially given plans to create a publicly available standard for patients' perspectives. So treat your customers in a MAGIC manner – they will heal quicker as they experience less stress and anxiety, choose to return when they have another medical need, and spread the MAGIC word. It makes dollars and cents to use MAGIC to set your hospital apart from others.