This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

The patient journey is not just within the four walls of the hospital. Consumerism has changed our expectations of our healthcare experience. Tune in to hear two very distinct experiences from one patient.  


 


Claire Bonaci 


You’re watching the Microsoft us health and life sciences, confessions of health geeks podcast, a show that offers Industry Insight from the health geeks and data freaks of the US health and life sciences industry team. I’m your host, Claire Bonaci.  On this podcast guest host, Antoinette Thomas our Us chief patient experience officer interviews colleague, John Barto on his contrasting experiences at two health institutions and the importance of the positive patient experience.


 


Antoinette Thomas 


 Welcome, everyone, to our Microsoft podcast, confessions of health geeks, my name is Antoinette Thomas, and I’m the chief patient experience officer for us health and life sciences. And today I have with me my colleague, John Barto.  John, I’m hoping you’ll take a few minutes to introduce yourself.


 


John Barto 


Sure, Antoinette. My name is obviously john Barto. I’m a former CIO from the healthcare industry, from a hospital and my job at Microsoft is to help health organizations understand how to create transition, or transformation in their environment using technology. It’s also to bring back nuggets from the customers to help our product organization to understand if there’s deficiencies in our technology and helping those transformations, how we might help overcome those. And it’s a, it’s a very rewarding experience, I get a chance to see so many different health care systems doing some wonderful things. And I get to share those amongst the different health systems. So it’s a very rewarding job. Thank you for asking.


 


Antoinette Thomas 


You’re welcome. And it’s good to work with you. So we’re going to talk about an experience that you have had as a patient here in the last couple of months. And so as we all know, we’ve been living through a year of pandemic life in the United States. And you and I both work with our healthcare system customers. And their focus has been on pandemic protocols, frontline worker, safety, PPE, and all of that, rightly so. And this extreme stress that they’re undergoing managing through this unprecedented time have kept the patient experience front and center. However, we know their stories that are highlighted on the news every day about exceptional patient experiences. But I think it would be remiss of us to not talk about experiences where things could have gone better. And that’s why you’re here with us today. So I understand that your family was diagnosed with COVID over the Christmas season. And I’m really sorry to hear that you all had to be going through that at the same time. So I thank you for being here and willing to share this experience with us. So can you tell me more about those first few days?


 


John Barto 


Yeah, I guess it was right before Christmas. I think the first diagnosis came in on my daughter on Christmas Eve. And we figured out that she had COVID. So we isolated her, made sure that nobody interacted with her. And we basically did. Only thing we ever did together was on Christmas Day, we went and took our presence outside and she said far away from us. And in the spirit of Christmas, we unwrapped presents. And then later that day, we served her food into her room, put her to her door, she came and got it. So we’re very close and very conscious on the isolation. But later that day, when we were having our Christmas meal, there was a bunch of texts coming in from my son, you know, the kids can’t sit at the table without having their phones and the texts come in and even on Christmas. And the texts were all saying I’ve been tested positive for COVID. I’ve been tested positive for COVID. And so that kind of threw my son and my wife and I into the thought process of we probably should be tested because we have my in laws that live in the house as well. And they’re they’re elderly, and we want to make sure we keep them from being exposed. So on Christmas day, we were looking around for a place to get tested in Christmas evening, which wasn’t very easy, right. And there was an emergency room that other people told us that they’d gone to and we went to that emergency room and we got tested and that was an awesome experience. It took us we got rapid test. It only took us probably about 45 minutes to determine where we were at test wise. And what we ended up finding out is that my son had been diagnosed as COVID and my wife and I were clear of COVID and so we sent my daughter and my son to a friend’s house. Their children that had COVID. And we kind of did this as a quarantine exercise to keep them away from everybody. And basically what happened is a couple days later, my wife was starting to feel not so good. So both her and I went for another test we we went through for a full PCR test, not a rapid test, and my wife came up diagnosed as as positive and I was still diagnosed as negative. And then a couple days later, they actually came back, this was interesting, they came back from the PCR test and determined that they had messed mine up with someone else. And that I was actually positive. So but at least they caught it, right. So they caught it. And those were those were done. And one of the local pharmacies, those PCR tests, we then isolated everyone at the other person’s house, the other family’s house, right. So the in laws didn’t get any exposure. But then we come to they started to come to some symptoms, we started to get them tested. My father in law, first of all tested positive, and then my mother in law tested positive at that same ER that we went to on Christmas where we took her. And an interesting thing about that is, while we’re covered by a good insurance, obviously working for Microsoft, my mother in law and father in law are on Medicare. And so that, er didn’t take Medicare. So we had to actually go out of pocket for the expense of getting even the test. And so that’s kind of how we learn that everyone was diagnosed with COVID. But there were some other interesting experiences that we had during away. So


 


Antoinette Thomas 


I also think it’s really interesting that, you know, we’re talking about an entire extended family going through this at the same time. And just from you know, your comments about your testing experience, and benefits, and what that the difference was having Microsoft benefits and having Medicare benefits. So you know, that’s some interesting insights right there, from the extended family point of view. So, give me a little bit more about then what had transpired after your positive tests?


 


John Barto 


Well, when we first when my wife first got a positive test, and I got a positive test, obviously, we work in the healthcare industry at Microsoft and I have a lot of people that had been communicating with me about, you know, you got to consider, if you have any underlying conditions, you got to consider going after this monoclonal antibody treatment. And, you know, I kind of looked around about, I didn’t really think a great deal about it, I do have one underlying condition that I’ve lived with all my life, which was actually a contributor and basically qualified me for that treatment. The first thing I did when I started to think about looking for it is I called my primary care physician, and only to find out that my primary care physician had left the practice that they were in without any notification. So I got ahold of the office where they used to work. And I started asking about these monoclonal antibody, no one there knew anything about it. I then called my benefit, my plan. And I said, You know want, to kind of investigate, how do I get this, and they told me to go call my primary care physician back. So I called the office again. And they came up with finally the solution of I needed to go to the hospital, they determine whether I was gonna be able to get that protocol. And I asked him, Well, how do you go to the hospital, the only way I know how to do that is just to go for an ER visit. And you know, you maybe get admitted maybe you won’t. But that’s the only way I know how to engage a hospital, you know, directly. And so they said, that’s probably the best thing to do. I called around to their hospitals, and asked them, which are those ers might have the treatment, I found one that said that they had been treating people in that way. And so we actually took the time to go. And by this time, after I’d done this investigation, which was roughly a two day period of time to get the investigation all done to figure out what I needed to do. My wife and I decided we were talking about going but we weren’t really overly concerned. And then my father last diagnosis came back that he was positive. And he’s definitely an in the outer condition and has some has some real needs. And so we decided we were gonna go ahead and do this, we’re going to take him along. So the three of us showed up at the ER, explaining to them at the front door of the ER and I was very articulate about this. We all know we have COVID we’re not here for that purpose. We’re here to get a monoclonal antibody. And I want to explain to you if that’s not possible, let’s just determine that right now. And we’ll go on our way and we won’t waste the resources of your health system. But we’re trying to do the right thing here. We’re trying to make sure we’re not basically putting ourselves in a position where we’re going to end up in one of your ICU units on a ventelator and those types of things. They basically took us in, they put us in rooms. After waiting for about two hours, they finally put us in a room. They did various different things to us from a treatment perspective. And every one of us was told we weren’t eligible for the monoclonal antibody. And mostly it was because they needed to know within 72 hours, within 72 hours of finding their protocol is within 72 hours of finding out you had COVID. That’s when they wanted to administer it. Well, frankly, we were at that er for six and a half hours. When I entered the ER, I was within the 72 hour protocol. When, when I, when I, when I finally got to the point, they said I wasn’t qualified, I was outside the 72 hour protocol. And so we had an experience that was very difficult for us. It made my father in law was elderly, he struggles to get around, keeping them in a place for six and a half hours and trying to do that kind of stuff. And then finding out that even though upfront, I told him directly. I wasn’t interested, if I couldn’t get it, we would leave. They basically put us in this position of spending all the time. And we’re still not sure how much money. Frankly, we haven’t been billed for those services. We don’t know how much that might have cost. And in my mind, that was a little bit crazy, because we wasted their resources, and did all that kind of stuff without really getting the result. Right. Yeah, that was one experience. And then the other side of the experience that’s actually very positive, is remember the ER I told you, we went to on Christmas Eve. That’s where my mother in law got her test to find out she was positive. And she was the last one. If you remember, she was the last one in the group that tested positive. Well, that was the day after we had just had this experience at the ER six and a half hours. We went, when we decided we needed to get her tested, we took her to the other er, the one we had a great experience with Christmas. When I showed up, they said she’s not you know covered. So you’re gonna have to come out of pocket, which was a relatively significant amount of money. But the experience was so good there on Christmas Eve that we decided we were going to go ahead and do it. And so I paid it out of pocket. We got her tested, she found that about 45 minutes later that she too had COVID. And we wrapped her up, put her in the car and took her back to the house right we were headed back to the house, got to the house, we were there for about 10 minutes. And a phone call comes in from the ER and it’s like you know you are eligible is basically a calling or is that she’s eligible for this thing called monoclonal antibody, which the irony of it is when I was doing my investigation, I checked out that ER as well as my, the place I normally go. And they said they didn’t have it yet. They were hoping to get it soon. So between that time and the time my mother in law got tested, they actually got the antibody, they followed up with us, they asked us if we wanted it, we actually negotiated a price for it since they weren’t covered under Medicare. And she went back to the hospital that night, that was actually New Year’s Eve. We went back to the hospital that night. And she spent all the way up till quarter to midnight, you know about a about a four and a half hour period getting the monoclonal antibody. So that was that was an awesome experience, from my perspective.


 


Antoinette Thomas 


You’re just sharing two vastly different experiences. And in one thing that really stands out for me is the positive feedback loop of the second experience of taking the test for the testing and having to pay out of pocket and then being you know, upfront with you about that. And then reaching back out to you to say, Hey, wait a minute, bring her back. She’s eligible for this. And that’s very different than your your initial experience at the other facility.


 


John Barto 


Yeah, hugely different. In fact, my father in law was probably the one that is most at risk, right from a health perspective. And what we did then is we had a tough time convincing them he still wanted to get the monoclonal antibody. So after she had that experience, we actually call that er back. Their protocol is slightly different than the one that we had originally gone to. And we basically had a lot of conversation with them and they said they would go ahead and take him in and give him the monoclonal antibody as well. So we did get it for both the in laws and you know, it’s been we’ve avoided any kind of real problems from the from the healthcare side of the business, none of us ended up in the hospital or admitted or anything like that. And we do believe that it’s because of that, that that those two are actually able to stay clear. It was pretty significant out of pocket expense for both of them. But the experience so much better, actually was a result, you know, it was better, but it also got resolved. So we were, we were very happy to go ahead and go out of pocket to pay for those kinds of expenses.


 


Antoinette Thomas 


Yes. And it kept them out of the hospital with any, you know, awful symptomatology. So that’s good. That’s good. Um, I do have a question for you, though. So now having had these separate experiences, have you received a survey in the mail a patient experience survey? And if yes, have you filled them out to let them know,


 


John Barto 


I have received no survey on either of the visits. And I’ve only actually been billed for the, for the one visit for my insurance, I have still not been billed for the visitor they awful visit, right, I haven’t been billed for any of that. haven’t even seen claims go gets my insurance on it. But but for the ER that we really like the one that we went to, on Christmas to get our testing done, we have received our billing and our insurance covered it all and all that kind of stuff. But I’ve never received a survey from either of the institute’s at this point. I suspect one will be coming, but it’s not


 


Antoinette Thomas 


I hope one is going to be coming, I hope two will be coming. Because we know those are important. And we know that patients will generally remember the very last thing that happened, whether it was positive or negative, that happened inside that healthcare system. So again, two vastly different experiences for you and your family. So as we wrap this up, and you know, any words of wisdom for our listeners on what it’s like to go through this, and any recommendations you can make on if they are exploring, requesting the monoclonal antibodies, and your entire process with being diagnosed with COVID.


 


John Barto 


Yeah, so. So first of all, while I haven’t I want to finish this thought process, well, I haven’t gotten a survey, obviously, I’m talking to you about my experiences, whether it comes through a survey or not, or it’s just consumer knowledge that is being passed around, you know, it is very important to kind of do things that are helping the experience along, if you want to get repeat business, I have chosen since to find another primary care provider, I will no longer be going to that health Health Institute that I used to go to. And, you know, that’s been the result of my experience. So first and foremost, and stay active with your primary care physicians, because I, you know, once a year, to find out there wasn’t even a primary care physician there was kind of surprising to me. So, so stay active with them. The other thing is, you know, I have a lot of people in the business, I know a lot of doctors and nurses because of my job, I think I was a little bit fortunate to get a lot of advice from them. And the fact that I needed to advocate for myself really, really heavily to make sure that the care that we received, was actually provided. And to be candid with the people as we checked into the ers and those types of things that, you know, I was aware that, that we wouldn’t qualify, and that if that was true, you know, find a different way, a different path. You need to kind of educate yourself, those types of things. And it’s not easy to do. I would say there’s a lot of when I started looking into it, there’s a lot of sites now that people are going to to kind of tell about their experiences and things like that through the process. But But this thought was ironic about it is what started the thought process for me about some press that came out that said these distributed through big warp speed, and they’re not. They’re just not being touched. And, and I think that’s why I felt like I should go after it.  But I you need to advocate for yourself. I mean, it’s, you know, so accustomed [inaudlible]


 


Antoinette Thomas 


Well, I think you’re bringing up an important point too, because, you know, john q public, joan q public, we’re so overwhelmed with all of the different bits and pieces that are coming from the news about where to go for testing, how to go for testing, you know, what’s the process after you get tested, it’s so hard to know. And this point you’re making about advocating for yourself because you know, you you know how to do that. And I tend to think of the millions of people that that don’t, you know, and how overwhelming that is. So those are very good points.


 


John Barto 


I would say one thing, in addition to that is, it was a good learning experience for my children. Because you can imagine, with all of us having COVID, we had to take shifts as to who was helping who and, and so there were times where my daughter and my son had to be in those conversations with the medical professionals about, okay, my father in law cleared to get a monoclonal treatment, because I just had had enough I could do anywhere I needed to sleep, right. And so, so it’s actually taught a generation that they need to be able to do that. And I think they picked it up quicker than I probably would have, because their generation has got that curiosity and advocating for themselves, they got consumerism in their blood. And, you know, that’s what’s coming at the healthcare system. So you’ve got to be aware of that. We’ve got to reform stuff to be able to handle those types of resources there, those types of folks.


 


Antoinette Thomas 


Yeah, I want to thank you again for coming on and and sharing your experience, because if it helps someone out there listening, then that’s what it’s all about. Thank you, john.


 


John Barto 


Well, thank you. Thank you, Toni.


 


Claire Bonaci 


Thank you all for watching. Please feel free to leave us questions or comments below. And check back soon for more content from the HLS industry team.

Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

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