The average hospital always promises one thing in its branding – such as exceptional care and genuine compassion – but then rarely (or never!) delivers on that promise. And, the emergency department seems to be the weakest link in any possible branding and the one area I dread most about any hospital. Unless you’re profusely bleeding from a major artery, chances are you’ll end up waiting hours (maybe even days!) before you’re even seen.
However, I was pleasantly surprised with the changes that NYU Langone Medical Center in NYC recently made. This past Thursday evening, my husband and I went with our adult son to the emergency department at NYU. He had a condition that needed immediate medical attention but would not be considered life-threatening (thank goodness!) in order to be seen right away. I was preparing myself for a very late night and was hoping we’d get home before sunrise.
When we walked into NYU’s ER, the first thing I noticed was no chaos. Unfortunately, I’ve had my fair share of times in the emergency department, and your head starts to spin with the chaos, craziness and overcrowding. But, this time, it was shockingly different. It was quiet. Was I no longer in NYC? They immediately had my son talk to the triage nurse and my husband and I sat down. I noticed the chairs were completely different as well. They were new chairs and, surprisingly, really comfortable. Well, I thought, that’s good since we’ll probably be stuck here for hours.
My son sat down with us and we prepared to wait. But, only after a few short minutes, they called his name. We followed a gentleman down a long corridor to another wing in the hospital. We were going to “Fast Track” – another area for less seriously ill or injured patients who would be seen right away versus waiting for hours. Really? I couldn’t believe it…this new area was also quiet and very organized. My son was seen after a few minutes, and the doctor was terrific. He spent a good deal of time with my son and was very compassionate. We were in and out of the emergency department in about an hour-and-a-half. Trust me… that’s record time and I was amazed.
So, kudos to NYU for reorganizing their emergency department to make triage more efficient and to prevent long hours of waiting for those who need medical attention but are not considered to be in a life-threatening situation. We actually had a good experience in the emergency department, which I realize sounds like an oxymoron. But, it’s not. My perception of what an ER could be like has completely changed…for the better. NYU eliminated the chaos, overcrowding and long hours by completely separating the serious from the less serious cases. It seems so simple and obvious, but I’ve never seen this done before.
This experience was particularly interesting to me, both as a public relations professional and as a consumer. At Peppercom, we conduct a proprietary audience experience audit for clients, which allows them to truly understand their brand’s experience in their customers’ shoes. I would never even think to equate the word good and, even in this case, exceptional with an ER. However, NYU is like the Zappos of emergency departments. That’s probably the highest compliment I could give since I greatly admire how Zappos handles its customers.
I’m hoping NYU has started a new trend for the other emergency departments in NYC and throughout the country. Congrats, NYU, for giving new life to the emergency department.