John Stossel: I Have Lung Cancer

John Stossel is America's Consumer Reporter. So, it comes as no surprise that when Stossel was told by doctors that he had lung cancer, he would bitch about the customer service.

Stossel starts off his post on the Fox News website, bu getting straight to the point.

"I write this from the hospital. Seems I have lung cancer."

He says that the growth was caught early and he expects to come out of this OK.

But then, in typical Stossel form, he goes off on the hospital's customer service. Anyone that has been in a hospital lately knows that Stossel hit the preverbal nail right on the head. 

 He writes, I'm at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. U.S. News & World Report ranked it No. 1 in New York. I get excellent medical care here.

But as a consumer reporter, I have to say, the hospital's customer service stinks. Doctors keep me waiting for hours, and no one bothers to call or email to say, "I'm running late." Few doctors give out their email address. Patients can't communicate using modern technology.

I get X-rays, EKG tests, echocardiograms, blood tests. Are all needed? I doubt it. But no one discusses that with me or mentions the cost. Why would they? The patient rarely pays directly. Government or insurance companies pay.

I fill out long medical history forms by hand and, in the next office, do it again. Same wording: name, address, insurance, etc.

I shouldn't be surprised that hospitals are lousy at customer service. The Detroit Medical Center once bragged that it was one of America's first hospitals to track medication with barcodes. Good! But wait -- ordinary supermarkets did that  decades before.

Customer service is sclerotic because hospitals are largely socialist bureaucracies. Instead of answering to consumers, which forces businesses to be nimble, hospitals report to government, lawyers and insurance companies.

Whenever there's a mistake, politicians impose new rules: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act paperwork, patient rights regulations, new layers of bureaucracy...

You can read the rest here.