Friday, January 12, 2007

I Love PAMF (a tale of medicine done right)

We hear so many complaints about the medical system in this country, when it works, it can be pretty darn good. This post is a tribute to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF).

My little girl started coughing and had a fever on Wednesday. Yesterday, after being better for most of the day, her fever started getting worse. By 6:30, she had a fever that (according to the ear thermometer at least) read 105 degrees F.

Now all of you parents have probably gone through this calculation before--how sick is my child? Can it wait until morning? Do I have to go to the emergency room and wait for hours?

Instead, I called the special advice line and left a message with my concerns. Less than an hour later, a doctor called back to discuss the situation, and recommended that I bring her in. Because PAMF is open until 9PM, the doctor told me to come right in. We were in a waiting room by 8 PM with a nurse taking her temperature.

When the doctor came in, he examined her and though she might have pneumonia. So using the computerized system, he quickly ordered up a chest X-ray. 5 minutes later, an X-ray technician led us about 200 feet down the hall to the X-ray machine. Another 5 minutes later, we were back in the waiting room, talking with the doctor (but not before the tech showed my daughter and I the X-rays on his computer screen).

The doctor showed us the pictures on his screen, explained the indications of pneumonia, and wrote an electronic prescription for antibiotics. After checking the time and informing me that all non-24-hour pharmacies closed at 9 PM, he sent the prescription electronically to a 24-hour Walgreens. We were home 8:50 PM, and 10 minutes later, when I arrived at the pharmacy, they were already putting together the prescription.

Alas, one thing that PAMF can't do is stay up with your sick child; I had a restless night helping my daughter sleep (in the end, she slept on top of my chest!), but I'm very glad that she was able to start her antibiotics last night.

It's nice when something really works. Not only did PAMF perform well above my expectations, every person along the way was kind, reassuring, and went out of their way to communicate expectations and reasons. Can you do the same in your business?

(This post partially inspired by Jackie Danicki's tales of the NHS in the UK. Anyone for socialized medicine?)


Jackie Danicki said...

Poor baby! I hope she feels better soon. She's lucky to have a daddy who lets her sleep on his chest!

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