A longish post about a trivial situation with Pearlsky’s hospital. I have had two very difficult days and this was a great diversion for me. As you know, I love a good fight (so to speak) and this was not bad, not a fight, but, well, a situation. Yes, I know I can be difficult, especially if I want to be, but here I was not trying! So, read or not, your choice. But there is a poll at the end …
We go to a big city children’s hospital. Last August they started this website where you can access your child’s records, securely contact doctors, etc. Great idea. I signed up and fairly quickly found it did not live up to its potential. I have used it somewhat, but it has been disappointing for lots of reasons, none of which are worth going into.
But then yesterday …
… I get an email:
This is a reminder that you have a bulletin waiting for you in the childcare home page, which requires a response.
Please log in to see it.
Please reply to this email if you have any questions.
I found it curious that this was a “reminder” in that it was the first notice I received. I go to the home page, and viola! … nothing, no bulletin. I reply to the email saying that there is no bulletin and I get this:
Apologies for the confusion. I unfortunately cannot look at each individual childcare page, but have been told by a different hospital staff member that the bulletins have been sent out to potential participants as of last night. Did you log in to your childcare page and not see anything there? Would you please confirm for me exactly what you see when you log in?
So I do as I am told. I log in and I look at both my home page and Pearlsky’s (yes, for some weird reason I have one). No bulletin. I send the woman screen shots of both home pages.
Then today I get an email, with it is their internal email trail basically saying “WTF is going on?” The part directed to me is interesting …
Dear [Single Dad],
On the 2nd screen after you selected her child, he needs to click at the box that say “Health Records” to access your child’s health record. The 1st page that greets you in Health Records is the Bulletin.
It clearly was to me, by name. I did what Daisy was trying to say, again to no avail. Note that I have absolutely no problem with someone for whom English is not their first language, but business email needs to be a bit better than that. Anyway, since Daisy was kind enough to add a half dozen cc’s to the email, I left them in the trail when I sent her a screenshot and this:
Here is the second page (see screenshot below) that you told me to go to to see some “bulletin waiting for you” and unless it is in some secret code, it is not there. Does anyone working on this site have a clue? Is this a joke? Do you actually get paid to do this?
Then I finally get an email saying it is all fixed. I try to go to the site and I get a big error screen that I’ve never seen (note: I am a geek, I have over a dozen sites on my own servers). Their server is completely hosed. I send them a screen shot. And this email:
First, I get an email that says it is a “reminder” about a bulletin … note that it was the first notice of said bulletin, ever. How that constitutes a “reminder” baffles me.
Second, the bulletin does not exist where the “reminder” said it should be.
Third, I am told that after I selected “her child” (no clue who “her” is), “he” needs to click (no clue who “he” is, unless the pronoun refers to “her child” and if that refers to my child, alas, she is a she) on “Health Records” to access the page that has said bulletin.
Fourth, said bulletin is not at that location.
Fifth, I am told it is all fixed.
Sixth, I get developer errors when attempting to access said bulletin.
Is this why we need health care reform? Does it keep getting worse because I wrote to you? I sure hope the bulletin is a life or death matter …
And that is just the background! Keep reading, it gets better.
They get it fixed and I see the bulletin. It is an announcement that they want me to fill out a survey on what I think of their system!!!!
I send an email (remember there are almost a dozen cc’s on it, I have no idea who these people are) … hey, I did not feel like doing real work today.
Subject: hysterically funny, actually
All that to get a bulletin asking me to fill out a survey for my opinion on the use of the system!!!
Do you REALLY still want my opinion?
I click on the link to do the survey. I figure since I’ve been such a dickhead so far, why not help them for real and do the survey. Several of the questions were very poorly worded (i.e.: you must give an answer, no answer is applicable, hence the results are meaningless). I complete the survey and sit there dumbfounded. Completely. Why? Well here is the email I then sent …
Subject: Anonymous? How is that possible? Serious Question …
Your survey starts out saying … “We hope that you will participate in this study by completing this brief, ANONYMOUS survey.” The emphasis is yours.
Then at the end it says “We have entered you into a lottery to win one of four $100 gift cards to Target.”
If it is “ANONYMOUS,” how will you know where to send the gift card?
Seriously, is it anonymous?
Someone new speaks up and writes:
I understand your frustration and I apologize for all the confusion that has been caused about this survey. Please allow me to answer your question as I am the study research assistant and have done all the work in setting up the surveys.
Your question is a valid one and it did come up before when our study was being reviewed by the Institutional Review Board.
The way that the surveys have been set up is that I have access to a random study ID for each user have coded each survey with a unique ID. A different staff person who has access to the childcare system sends out the bulletins to each participant; I have no access to the childcare system. However, I can log in to the surveymonkey website and collect a list of study IDs of individuals who have completed the survey.
In this way, we conduct the lottery using the study IDs and then send the 4 winning IDs to a childcare staff person who can link that ID to an email address. At that time, we will send emails to the winning participants and ask for their identifying information in order to send the gift card. At no time will the person’s identifying information be linked to the survey. Each survey is coded simply with a study ID.
I hope this puts your mind at ease and I promise you that we take your privacy very seriously. This is a simple survey that does not require identifying information in order to be useful and it is of no advantage to us to link survey answers to identifying information for any of the participants.
Again, I apologize for all the confusion that has occurred and promise you that we are all working to make such communication go more smoothly in the future.
The signature on the email shows she is a social worker (for what it’s worth).
I wonder if logging into a survey monkey hurts.
I write her back asking why is there no explanation on the survey site if they knew it was an issue? And is it really anonymous if all she needs to do is meet with one other person and have all the information? I ended my email with this:
I bring this up for a very specific reason, actually. I did have an incident at the hospital which was awful and I do not know if it is in the records anywhere. I almost used it as an example in one of your questions and now I am very glad I did not. And many of my answers to your survey were based on things that were not asked or information I did not have (such as what exactly is in the childcare’s database vs. other hospital information on my child).
I appreciate your information on this “simple survey” but this is what I don’t get … if the Review Board had the same question I did (i.e.: how is it anonymous if I can win a prize), don’t you think many other parents will have the same thought? Does it not worry you that potentially many participants will come away with a sick feeling? And how many survey responders will then bother to tell you this? My honest reaction was a very visceral distaste for the entire system, apart from the other issues of the last day or so. All faith of anonymity was lost in an instant. There are very easy ways you could have accomplished the lottery and not given this impression. You have no idea how many participants now feel the same way.
Yes, I know I am being difficult and most of those reading this are rolling their eyes and wishing I would go away, and I will.
I thought it was all over at that point. Then I get this:
I apologize for your recent frustrations and difficulties with the childcare site.
We are actively working on identifying and rectifying the problems that you encountered.
We certainly value your feedback and would welcome your suggestions to improve the site to meet your and your children’s needs. We are in the process of a major upgrade and are working on expanding the level of information available through the site.
Any information and suggestions you can provide to help us improve the user experience would be greatly appreciated.
I apologize again and thank you for your feedback.
This was from an “MD, MPH” (Master of Public Health). Wow, she wants MY feedback!
And now, the final email of the day, from me to Dr. MPH:
I know you were cc’d on some of today’s emails and not others. I do not know anyone’s position there, nor what they do with the website, so I just followed someone else’s lead. Actually, I have no idea what your position is, I will for the sake of this email imagine you have some responsibility for it.
If you are serious about valuing my feedback and welcome my suggestions, I will gladly give you input. You would need to be a bit more specific on what points of view you are looking for.
As mentioned in a previous email, I am a single father with two severely disabled children. We have been using your hospital for 17 years … if you are interested in who I am, feel free to speak with [doctor] or [doctor] and they can vouch for me! I am a geek with many web servers and web sites so I know the technical end, and I own two companies, so I know the “perception” end, and I am the sole caretaker for my severely disabled daughter.
I would ask you if you have on your team the parent of a child like mine? Is there someone who uses the site often who is also on your team? I ask for a simple reason, I have found that my geeky products (tools for design engineers) get better when I have to use them myself for a project. Only then, from actual hands on, do I find the real problems, using my own product in the position of an end-user.
Simple example: I still have no reason why on your site I am listed as a patient. Maybe it was a mistake when I first signed up, maybe I need to be (an email asking many months ago was not responded to). So every time I go on the site I must remember to go to the drop down box on the upper right and choose my daughter. I have never once remembered, I just immediately try to get some information, then I remember. My point is, this is very frustrating and a very easy technical fix. I would think any other parent would experience this (unless it is my error that it is there).
As for perception, the fact that I got an email riddled with glaring grammatical errors (definitely not typos) is rather major. I am all for hiring those for whom English may not be their primary language (most of the nannies I hire are such) but why do they not have their business correspondence checked? With one email, and one survey (the anonymity discussion of an earlier email) I have lost all respect, trust, and faith in your project. Not a good thing for either one of us.
As I repeatedly said today, the concept and idea is fantastic, the implementation, well, not so, the support, even less.
Let me know what I can do to help. Including going away …
Pearlsky and I have an appointment this Friday morning at your facility in case anyone wants to throw something at me.
So, there you have it. No work today, but some fun. Am I a sick puppy or what?
And now for the promised poll … note that it will allow multiple answers and, at the author’s discretion, I may not show all the “other” responses …
“Other” answers given:
- Most of the above, though my sexual preference prevents me from including ‘hot’
- I checked pain in the ass, but I mean that it the best way possible. Really.
- All of the above
- the person I want to see as President!
- you like NSAMIYMKM’s 😉