I typically don't write reviews on medical facilities, however, the positive experience I had with my wife's surgery at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute prompted a response.
When we arrived for my wife’s double meniscus surgery, we were guided to a private registration area separate from the waiting room. At that point, a staff member reviewed the pending medical procedure along with several other medical and legal forms that needed the patient's approval. Before completion, the staff provided the patient’s spouse/significant other (SSO) with a patient record number that can be used on the electronic screen to stay informed on the overall status of the procedure.
Once registration was complete, both the patient and SSO were guided back to the general wait area awaiting the pre-op review. During the pre-op step, we were briefed by several nurses, the anesthesiologist, and the surgeon. Basic medical vitals were done on the patient and one last review was done by the surgeon. My wife knew this surgeon and appreciated the fact he had a sense of humor too. Once the patient heads towards surgery, the SSO goes back to the waiting area.
The waiting area is spacious, quite comfortable with a nice variety of magazines to review. Clean restrooms and free coffee are provided although my coffee tasted stale which was surprising as it was 9 am. Free Wi-Fi is available which allowed guests to work or use their mobile devices as a nice diversion.
As I mentioned earlier, the SSO has a patient record number to track the status of the procedure. It is designed with privacy in mind so each SSO can track the length of surgery and when their loved one is moved from surgery to post-surgery.
After you have confirmed the surgery was completed (based on the tracking patient record), you wait 10 or 15 minutes before your name is called. The post-op nurse guides you into a private office for a general briefing of the surgery. I scrambled to take notes but the nurse assured me that she had a written detailed summary of the surgery and the recovery procedures. Once the nurse leaves and a few minutes later, the surgeon arrived and you’re briefed on the details of the surgery.
I was then able to visit my spouse in the post-op area. At that time, the post-op nurse hands me a post-op procedure as she goes over all the recovery specifics for that day and the next few months. Because my wife was still groggy from the surgery, I listened attentively to the guidelines. The post-op nurse went through some of the key items rather quickly so I had to interject a few questions to ensure my full understanding.
During my chat with the surgeon, I remarked how efficient this facility was run. He went on to say that most insurance companies like this medical facility as opposed to an outpatient procedure at a hospital. I quickly realized it came down to costs, as he said these procedures are 40-50% less than outpatient. In fact, insurers are steering all patients towards this type of facility unless there's a significant medical reason to perform it outpatient.
The discharge area was covered and private, and after fetching my vehicle, the nurse and I were able to assist my wife in our car.
Many patients and SSOs dread waiting in emergency rooms or other medical wait areas. Several things come to mind that determines the inconvenience one might experience. A big item is an expectation, if you're told in an ER that it will be 60 minutes to be seen and you're still waiting after 100 minutes, that's a critical frustration point. Another example, if you're expected to see your doctor at 3 pm but he's one hour behind schedule, how much more time before you're exasperated? Also, what's the overall design of the facility? Are there enough chairs available? If there's junk on the TV, can you find a quiet spot?
Having said that, this facility experience exceeded my expectations. The overall process took less time than predicted, no delays in the surgery, a comfortable wait room, fairly quiet and my ability to track the status of the overall procedure at any time. This experience was quite pleasant which prompted me to share my experience with others who may need to use their services in the future.
I will add one brief thing about the cost; one can assume these two procedures are not inexpensive, even with good health insurance and the patient already meeting her deductible. In fact, my wife opted for the double knee surgery primarily due to cost and convenience. After the procedure, three separate bills are forthcoming, one for the facility fee, another for the anesthesiologist and the other for the actual procedure. However, the gist of this medical procedure experience was from a customer service perspective so I’ll not dwell on the overall cost in this blog post.
Even though the facility is a rectangular building, it reminds me of a circular facility or 5 semi-connected parts. For example, the first section is waiting, second is the pre-op, third is surgery, the fourth is post-op, and the fifth is post-op consultation. Visually, and using a clock as a guideline, you begin the process at 6 o’clock (waiting area and registration), proceed to 3 o’clock (pre-op), Noon is next (operation), 9 o’clock is (post-op) and back to 6 o’clock for release. The entire process took about 3 hours or so and efficiently flowed counterclockwise so your release even though it's near the entrance is far enough away to be logistically effective.