Design and Lean Processes to a Seamless Customer Experience at a Hospital

 In BLOG, Business, Change, Culture, Design, Innovation, Leadership, Leading Change, Motivation, Thoughts

A little bit of: Customer Service, Flow, Lean Process, and Design from other Industries. A lot of: Seamless Customer Experience.

I recently had a phenomenal experience at a local hospital that took design and lean processes to a level I did not expect. It began at the front desk. When my mother and I arrived, we were pleasantly surprised that my mother’s name and patient number was already on a slip at the front desk. Even more surprising was the fact that the slip was attached to a cell phone. Now, I don’t know if I am late to the game since I haven’t been to a hospital in a long time, but at that moment I thought it was pretty amazing. The lady at the front desk obtained a signature from my mom, explained that when the phone rings we should pick up and follow instructions, and that I can view my mom’s surgery status displayed by her patient number on a large TV in the lobby. Wow.

We sat in the lobby waiting for the phone to ring, at this moment I felt as if a secret messenger was going to tell us a clue and send us on a journey. I could hardly wait! Finally, the phone rang, I must say loudly but pleasantly. A carefully chosen ring-tone I bet. It’s a flip phone; we flipped and answered. Easy as 1-2-3. The nurse told my mom that the lady from the front desk would walk her to the prep room and to leave the phone with me. She appeared quickly, as if she heard the conversation. She repeated the instructions we heard over the phone then handed me the phone as if it was something sacred, directed that they would call me when I can see my mom before surgery, and took her away.

I sit and wait. By that time I had my laptop open, ready to do something productive at 5am. Thirty minutes later the easy to handle cell phone rings the loud, yet pleasant, ring tone one more time. I flip it open and the nurse instructs me to meet another nurse at the door to be escorted to the pre-surgery area. Right before surgery, the doctor herself advised me that she would come find me when surgery was finished to update me and that after that the nurse would call me to come see my mom.

I parked myself downstairs by the coffee shop and continued to work on my laptop for a few hours. Almost forgetting I was at the hospital, as I did not have to walk around aimlessly or guess about what was going on. It was comfortable. I was assured I would see the doctor and that I would be notified via cell phone if anything happened. I witnessed many visitors pile into the lobby to check the large TV for the flight status…I mean patient status. So convenient and timely!

As promised (and expected at this point) my mother’s doctor had no problem finding me at the coffee shop. She could have called. Instead she chose a much more effective way to let me know that everything went as planned. I felt…special… taken care of…

About an hour later the nurse called me and instructed me to return the ‘magical’ cell phone to the front desk and come up to see my mom. I parted with my communication instrument and was escorted to the proper recovery room.


  • Seamless experience. Seamless process.
  • Handing out cell phones at the hospital may have scared quite a few executives at some point…definitely not anymore. And, it was a well worth it cost!
  • After assuring nurses and doctors that this actually creates a lean process for them, perfect training and modeling went a LONG way. (This doesn’t only benefi the patient; so often new processes are introduced to benefit patients that ultimately hinder nurse and doctor performance)
  • Flip phone was so easy to operate; your grandmother can do it.
  • I mean it, exceptional customer service!
  • Organizational culture, culture, culture…
  • Displaying flight statuses on a large TV? Works. Displaying patient surgery status on a large TV? Works.
  • User experience – fabulous.



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