The Importance of the Human-Human Connection in Healthcare

The Importance of the Human-Human Connection in Healthcare

[Susan J. Baumgaertel, MD covets the human-human connection after a technology glitch when getting her own blood drawn.]

An interesting thing happened yesterday morning,

when I went to an independent lab in a nearby hospital to get my labs drawn.

No, it wasn’t just the fact that I had 19 (yes, nineteen!) vials of blood taken from the wonderful vein in my left antecubital fossa.

It was the fact that the automated, computerized check-in system was down. The two kiosks where you show your driver’s license and verify information were both out-of-order. So, too, was the massive TV-screen monitor that typically displays the list of people waiting in line. The screen was black.

Instead, those of us waiting for our blood to be drawn quietly took little slips of paper from a box, wrote our names and DOB and whether or not we were fasting on them, and handed them back to the two front desk employees.



I sat quietly,

enjoying the ambience of strangers collectively waiting, and got up when my name was called just five minutes later.

After my heroic donation of 19 vials—masterfully and painlessly obtained via a butterfly (that’s a small-bore needle with tubing for those that don’t know) by a skilled and courteous phlebotomist—I departed through the almost vacant lobby.




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The last time I was at the very same location,

at the same time, it was pure chaos.

The kiosks were not working perfectly, people in the kiosk lines were not friendly, a vision-impaired patient needed help, another senior had no ID card (apparently had never owned a driver’s license) and also had a language barrier.

I also recall the huge TV-screen monitor had advertisements flashing across constantly, and every person in the lobby was fixated on the continuously-updating list of patients waiting—some of them complaining loudly that they were “bumped” and “had gotten there first” and “why was their name under others who had arrived later than they had?”

I drove home through messy traffic and enjoyed my bagel with cream cheese reward. I was still marveling at how different my experience had been without technology assisting the check-in and intake process. Just human–human connection.

What a breath of fresh air!

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