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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Taking Ownership



Recently, I called Apple Support to address several issues I was having with my cell phone that impacted its performance.  As I waited on hold, I was asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to. The choices were pop, rock, country or silence. I chose rock but did not get to hear much music as the customer service person came on the line. 

The person introduced herself as Doris. She asked me how she could help me. I explained to her what was happening with my phone. She listened asked me a few questions and then asked me if I wanted her to tunnel into my phone so she could see what was happening. I agreed and she walked me through the process. She also told me that she was taking ownership of this problem and would stay with me till the problems were resolved.  

We started to work on resolving the issues when a reminder popped up on my computer telling me that I had a teleconference call in 3 minutes. I let Doris know and she said, no problem. What time will the call be over? I told her the call would last an hour and that I was sorry for the interruption but I had to be on this call. She told me not to worry and assured me she would call me back so we could continue.

At the appointed time, she did call me back. I have to say I was a little worried as I was not sure she would call me back and I would have to start over with someone else. Once we reconnected, we continued to work on resolving the issues. She shared the process was going to take a while as we had to re-set my phone. Once the re-set process started, she explained the download would take about an hour. She suggested that we hang up and she would call me in an hour.

Doris called me back at the appointed time and the re-set had just finished downloading and we were able to continue working on my issues. About 30 minutes into our call, my phone was ready. We checked to make sure everything was working. I was thrilled that the various issues I had on my list were resolved! I thanked Doris and told her that I appreciated her time.

Reflecting on the experience I smiled and thought could something like this work in healthcare? Having Doris say, ‘she was taking ownership of my case’ was reassuring to me as I depend on my phone and want it to function correctly.

Doris was calm, patient and competent in her role. She put me at ease and said she would do all she could to resolve the problem. This was reassuring to me and I relaxed and let her do the work. I asked her various questions as we worked through the issues and she answered them in a relaxed manner. I was able to tell her what was happening on my end and she would show me with a pointer what she wanted me to do. She definitely took ownership of my problem and helped to resolve the issue so that my device worked up to it potential and met my needs.

Another aspect of the process that impressed me was how Doris used the technological tools that she had at her fingertips. I was amazed how far we had come in customer support technology. It made the process smooth and stress-free. Doris was trained in how to use these tools and did so with skill and confidence.

It made me think how important technology is for all of us and learning how to use the tools is critical. I asked Doris why this happened to my phone. She said that I had not been installing the updates to my phone when they became available that caused this problem. I realized as she said this that the problems I was having were caused by me - as I was not taking care of my device as I should.

Again, thoughts of healthcare came to mind. If we as patients don't understand our diagnosis or follow our plan of care, how can we expect to heal? If we are honest, we can’t blame the doctor or the healthcare team, it is our responsibility and like Doris, we have to take ownership of our health and healthcare.

Conversely, if our physicians and members of our healthcare team do not explain our diagnosis so we can understand it, how can we be expected to be active participants in our own care? If we are not part of developing our plan of care, how can we be expected to follow that plan if we silently don’t agree with it? If we don’t have the resources needed to manage our care due to limited insurance coverage, how can we care for ourselves adequately?

These are all challenges that patients face when they enter the healthcare system.All members of the healthcare team need to use their expertise to care for patients and work to improve the process. Like Doris, we need to take ownership of the role we play and work together to improve the process.

Have a good week!




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