Sometimes it can be useful to look at a system from an individual’s point of view, as the design of the system is what creates our experiences. So this blog post by Intelligent Management co-Founder Angela Montgomery takes an unusually personal slant.
“We’ll keep an eye on you for five years,” my surgeon told me. This week marks five years since my second surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and I am celebrating a clean bill of health by revisiting this very positive experience.
From my perspective as a patient with a keen eye for process management and Quality, the experience of healthcare at Mount Sinai was outstanding. It started with the reputation of the hospital for being top notch, and that was already reassuring. My pre-op appointments with the surgeon were punctual and as informative and pleasant as such an experience could be. I never had the impression that I was being rushed and all my questions were answered with great expertise and kindness.
On the day of surgery, the flow of patients from registration through to the Operating Theatre struck me as almost flawless. This was not just from a ‘drum-buffer-rope‘ flow of materials point of view. We are talking about handling a flow of anxious humans, and it was done beautifully, from the admissions room, through a smooth two-hour flow of efficient and pleasant interviews, taking of vitals, and speaking to all the experts involved. There was neither rush nor delay, and my husband was welcome to accompany me at all stages.
After a chat with the Operating Theatre nurse, the anesthesiologist arrived and introduced herself and an accompanying medical student (this is a teaching hospital). She asked more questions, all the while explaining and elaborating to the student with the kind of calm competence that only comes with years of excellent practice. My surgeon then arrived accompanied by two young resident surgeons. We all shook hands and they bantered with my anxious husband, and then it was time to say goodbye and go to the Operating Theatre at precisely 8 am, as scheduled. My (female) surgeon hugged me as we walked. As nervous as I was, I was confident and calmed by the kind manner of all these doctors at the top of their game, only one of whom that day was male.
The kindness of strangers
I awoke cocooned in warmed blankets and my surgeon came shortly to tell me everything had gone by the book. I was wheeled to a small ward where I was looked after by a day nurse and a night nurse who were always available at the press of a button. Other staff and volunteers brought meals and water. The woman in the next bed told me how excellent the hospital was and that her grandchildren had been born there. The next day I received three visits from surgeons and then I was discharged.
My overwhelming sentiment after this experience was one of gratitude, both for the outstanding Quality and the consistent kindness. None of this was by accident and the training doctors and staff receive at Mount Sinai clearly contemplates the patient experience as a high priority.
I made a rapid recovery and I received no bill for this. I am in Canada, and as a European I will always consider the provision of quality healthcare to all those who need it as one of the greatest values we share. It can be done, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, it doesn’t mean you treat patients like factory parts and cut costs for efficiencies. It does require intelligent management, and the understanding that excellence, in whatever setting, must always be founded upon humanity.
My lasting gratitude goes to Dr. Jackie Thomas, Dr. Mary-Ellen Cooke, and all their team and staff at Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto.
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About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management and author of the business novel+ website The Human Constraint , so far purchased in 21 countries around the globe. This downloadable novel uses narrative to look at how the Deming approach and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore, founder, and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York.