Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beware of Doctor Driving SUV's

I was walking along one of the main floors in the Helipad car park building at the very busy Auckland Hospital one Wednesday morning, when I saw a large SUV drive through the entrance and swing down the lane towards me.  I was just doing a walk through the car park to see how the day was turning out and noticed that the SUV was driving on the wrong side of the road.  As the SUV got closer, I could see that the driver who was a female, had a cup of coffee in one hand, resting on the steering wheel, and the other hand was touching up make up on the face in the rear view mirror.  Absolutely staggered to see this I motioned for the vehicle to stop.  I leaned toward the driver side window and said, “You should watch how you drive your vehicle in here, it’s a Hospital car park and some people may not be able to get out of the way as fast as I could”.  The lady promptly scowled at me and said, “I am a doctor and I work here.  If you don’t watch what you saying I will report you to the Chief of Surgery!” and drove off …… leaving me with an open mouth.

Readers will have heard me mention in past blogs that I believe that the Hospital visit starts from the time the patient enters the car park to the time the exit the car park, and not just the consultation with the healthcare professional.  It seems that with the competitive environment maturing in the US, that Hospitals are now actively seeking out patients with offers of goodies and VIP programmes to get them to go to their facility.  I can’t think of a better consequence of a competitive environment than the customer becoming important again.  It’s a shame the education system doesn’t work that way …… but that’s another story.

We have all had those days where we get to work and the day is just not clicking for us, from when the porridge was cold first thing in the morning to when we stubbed our toe getting into bed at night.  We have had the days also where we felt great after the run in the morning, the mood at the office was jovial and the day whizzed by in no time at all, and to top it off, the dinner on the table was your favourite.  The start and finish of the days made the process of thinking back on how the day went either a drag or very pleasant.  The start of the day affected how the rest of the day worked for you, or it just seemed like it did.  A trip to hospital is very much the same.  If practitioners want their patients to turn up in the best frame of mind to be cured, the healthcare administrators and decision makers need to understand that the journey starts in the car park.

Clearly the incentives put into the healthcare systems in the US are starting work, the patients are becoming important again.  To quote the article below, ‘Before managed care, hospitals focused more on appealing to physicians with new and advanced medical technologies, experts say. Physicians, it was thought, would bring in the patients.  Changes in health-care policies are giving hospitals added incentive to develop relationships with patients. Under the 2010 health-care overhaul, hospitals with higher than expected 30-day readmission rates for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia will face financial penalties starting this year.’   I do long for the day where parking becomes important again and that it is not seen as an add-on stuck out the back, but an important part of the patient’s journey into and out of the healthcare system.  Fortunately, not all healthcare professionals are like the doctor I met on the Wednesday morning.


  1. This reminds me of an exchange I had with another staffer a while back. Seeing an car blocking a doorway, I inquired whether arrogant parking was an option in cars costing over $30,000. Without batting an eye, she responded, "No, it's standard equipment".

  2. I also had a doctor argue with an absolutely truthful tone in his voice and without batting an eyelid that without doctors, there would be no patients...... I was stunned and speechless.

    1. after enquiring about a "free exit" a hospital visitor had recieved, my staff member replied that he had a call from the persons doctor saying that he had "authorised" free parking for his client?!? a quick phone call reminding the medico who actually runs the car park worked just fine