An Anti-Patient Experience In Cancer


Patient experience.

That was the answer I received when I spoke to an independent oncology practice (Cancer Center 1,2,3) why they were building a new 3 story cancer center. The practice informed me that the center was going to have amazing views in the infusion area. They proceeded to inform me that they had all of their physicians lifted into the air so they could get see the view from the patients perspective.

I inquired to the location, but it was not disclosed. I was reassured that the views were amazing.

Recently I was traveling down the interstate and came across a simple white billboard (Cancer Center ABC) announcing the ground breaking of a new cancer center. My curiosity took over so I had to take the next exit to see the site myself.

As I drove closer to the billboard, I noticed that it was indeed a new cancer center, but not for the local independent group, but for one of the hospitals. I decided to look up the press release and as I read, I was informed that one of the community hospitals decided it was time to build a new cancer center since their current one was small and outdated.

In the press release, it specifically highlighted the fact that there was a need to have a new cancer center built, one that focused on the patient experience.

As I drove away from the site I decided to see what construction was occurring on the other side of the highway. As I drove down the viaduct, to my surprise, there was a 3 story structure, a billboard, and the announcement of the independent oncology practices new cancer center (Cancer Center 1,2,3).

I pulled into the drive way and began to take in the views, the surroundings, and the effort it took to get to the building site. Even from 3 stories in the air, you immediately see a parking lot, a shopping store, a hotel, and business offices. If you look beyond the major intersection, you get a nice view of a corporate insurance headquarters. I am sure if you gaze far enough into the distance, you do get views of trees, valleys, and farmland.

However, most of us notice what is closest to us, in the near proximity, and tend to always see things closer than they appear.

I said to myself, “This is patient experience? I don’t think so.”

The more and more I have been thinking about this, the more and more disenchanted I become on how healthcare leaders, physicians, payers, and politics think in terms of the patient experience.

The reality is that the private practice and the hospital could not figure out a way to play in the same sand box. Instead of coming to a compromise on behalf of the patient, they decided to both go out and do their own thing.

Compete for the same number of patients. The same number of dollars. Compete on bastardized definitions of “patient experience.”

Both organizations feel that they have enough influence with referring physicians, current patients, and the payers that they both can split the difference and succeed.

As both organizations highlight the patient experience, they lose sight of the experience their patients will face.

Some patients will get chemotherapy at one sight and radiation at the other site.

Instead of the patient only driving to one place, to find one parking spot, for one or multiple appointments, sharing in the same staff, and being billed from the same entity, that patient will now have to walk back to their car, drive 5 blocks, find another parking spot, check in, fill out paper work, be billed by another entity, and have to deal with the same multiple questions being asked when they see physicians for daily-weekly-monthly-etc follow up appointments.

If the patient has to go back for a medication from the infusion office, it may actually require a 3rd trip of 5 blocks, parking, and other nuances.

How is this the ultimate in patient experience?

It seems to be more like the anti-patient experience.

Overnight the community has replicated technologies for making a diagnosis, monitoring, treating, and following up on cancer care; duplicated services, spent money on “me too” facilities, and have only thought of the patient experience through the lens of physicians, payers, and politics. Through their own organization.

Neither of the organizations are defining the problems that patients diagnosed with cancer have in this community.

If they did, they would understand that patients do not want to drive, park, check-in, fill out, discuss…only to leave, drive, park, check-in, fill out, discuss over and over again.

Other than colors, location, and a facility name their is no differentiation.

There is no value they are adding to the patient or family impacted by a cancer diagnosis.

Living in a community of only 70,000 people I doubt that we need 3 cancer centers. Let alone 2 new ones with replicated technologies.

Patient experience?


This is the anti-patient experience.

P.S. If either organization wants to work together on behalf of the patient, email me.

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek



6 responses to “An Anti-Patient Experience In Cancer

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  3. Well its not the dutch carousel. Why should medicine do things in a way that is other regarding. After all, “patients” dont understand medicine- they never went to medical school. The wouldnt know the difference between a DAMP or a PAMP or ER stress. So why should doctors have any regard for how their clients want their care to be? All “patients” can do is either conform and act like good patients or interfere with the process with some vernacular performance. Medicine and doctors are too important and too certain to have to deal with patients nonsense and concerns- patients should either like it or mover to some other country or engage in medical tourism. So lets not change how perfect medicine is- lets just keep treating patients as subservient functionaries of medicine.

    • Dave, I am taking it that you are either on the end of the spectrum where you are being sarcastic in your comments or you are on the other far end where you are stating how you feel…either way, the reality is that the health systems and providers that continue to do business as usual will be the Polaroids of tomorrow. Defunct.

  4. Dave, I am taking it that you are either on the end of the spectrum where you are being sarcastic in your comments or you are on the other far end where you are stating how you feel…either way, the reality is that the health systems and providers that continue to do business as usual will be the Polaroids of tomorrow. Defunct.

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