I’m having surgery on my ankle tomorrow. And on top of being generally upset about the fact that someone is going to cut me open and I’m not going to be able to walk (without crutches) or go anywhere outside of my house (without a chauffeur) for the next four weeks, I have had to figure out a bunch of odds and ends related to this whole tightening-of-the-ligaments endeavor.

  1. How to get a temporary handicapped tag for my car (or the car of the person who is driving my butt around)
  2. How many sessions of physical therapy my insurance is willing to cover vs. how many I will actually need
  3. Who will drive my son to camp while I’m hanging out on my couch for a month
  4. How my anesthesia and pain meds will affect my breast milk and ability to nurse

I write about this on my business blog, not because I seek sympathy (or prepared meals for those of you who know where I live), but because my doctor’s office gave me a pre-surgery packet filled with stuff that was good to know, but lacking stuff that I ended up having to figure out myself.

In it was directions to the outpatient surgery facility (necessary), instructions for using crutches to walk up stairs (semi-helpful, but a link to a video would have been better), and a letter informing me that my doctor would benefit financially from performing the surgery (I assumed as much).

A couple weeks ago the surgery center called me to tell me what medications I should stop taking one week before surgery (Tylenol, other OTC meds) and what I could take up until that day (vitamins). A couple days ago I received another call reminding me not to eat after midnight tonight, not to wear jewelry or perfume (but deodorant is okay), and to bring someone with me to drive me home. This information, and more, was spouted off to me in a 30-second phone call from a nurse reading a script.

If everyone involved here took a few steps back and thought about it from their audience’s perspective (i.e. patients about to go under the knife), they would do a few things differently.

  1. Make a checklist of things for patients to do waaaay before surgery (like obtain a handicapped parking tag; by the way, the first step is having the doctor’s office complete a form that they keep on file, which is why I’m wondering why they didn’t do this automatically as a courtesy while I was emailing the MVA office looking for answers!)
  2. Provide a written list of medications not to take before surgery and how long not to take them (I don’t have an elephant’s memory!)
  3. Provide a written list of medications that could be administered so the patient can know ahead of time what will be given (and can then make requests for alternatives if necessary)
  4. Make a checklist of day-of surgery reminders (food, jewelry, ride, etc.) so I don’t forget anything
  5. Provide links to support groups or something similar for people who might be anxious about having surgery for the first time (not me, but, uh, others who could be nervous)

So what is the lesson here? Take a look at the way you handle things in your business, about the information and products/services you provide your customers. Is it what they are seeking? Is it in a format that is convenient for them? Am I going to hold an instructional guide while I attempt to walk upstairs on crutches?