Remember secret shoppers, those people used by market research companies, watchdog organizations, or even by companies themselves to measure the overall customer experience, quality of service, compliance with regulations and more? The secret shopper would experience the shopping environment in much the same ways a customer would and then offer detailed feedback about their experiences. What would a secret shopper, or ‘secret patient’ have to say about your facility?
On a recent visit to a doctor’s office, I made an effort to really take note of my surroundings and what I can say is a number of health care facilities out there should be glad people are glued to their phones because when I looked around, much of what I saw wasn’t so great. Making my way into the facility, a mid sized clinic of mostly specialists, I noticed there was some debris and trash stuck in and around the bushes on the parking lot. It was a windy day but it looked as if the rubbish had been there some time.
As I made my way in to the facility I noted that the heavy glass entryway doors were greasy with prints and smudges. It was afternoon so I’m sure there had been many people in and out of the building by this point but it being cold and flu season and a medical facility, it did make me feel a bit hesitant about what germs likely covered the door handles. How many people with colds, flus and worse had come in touching those same handles? I know they can’t be cleaned between each individual but seeing the dirty glass doors definitely made me more conscious of the risk.
The walk to get to my physician’s suite was acceptable, carpets looked pretty clean and the overall condition of the walls, baseboards, pictures and lights looked good. I stopped at the office restrooms before my appointment. In a medical facility, I certainly have the expectation of clean restrooms but these were not as well cared for as I would have hoped. I wouldn’t compare them to a port-o-potty or stadium restroom but for a healthcare facility and high-end office building, they needed to be better maintained. There was water pooling up around the sink, the mirrors were wet and spotted. Trash and used paper towels had started collecting around a trash can. The baseboards were dusty and the drain had some mop string stuck in it. The stalls appeared clean and it could be because they were a dark color but it was still noticeable that this space needed more in the way of restroom cleaning.
Once in my doctor’s office I noticed that most of the reception area looked good with the exception of the decorative plants being very dusty. After being checked in I was escorted to an exam room. As I waited I took in my surroundings. There was a dark splotch on a cabinet though it was hard to tell how long it had been there. The vinyl baseboards were dusty, scuffed and in need of some attention. The sink had a good deal of mineral build up around the fixtures that probably could have been removed with a good cleaning. The reality is that patients are often kept waiting and they sit and look around and see things we might not notice and we move quickly through our facilities getting work done.