Soft music will replace TVs, chair configurations will make waiting rooms feel more private, and phone charging stations will make it possible for a client to escape digitally while waiting. An app will function as a digital medical assistant, giving patients risk information and reminding them of post-procedure instructions. Staff will receive additional training in connecting relationally with patients.
All of this is part of a plan to improve the way patients interact with a mega-corporation that is a household name. Commenting on their plan, Becca Karpinski, VP of Strategy and Organizational Effectiveness spoke highly of Planned Parenthood’s medical care but added, “frankly, the rest of the experience wasn’t necessarily what we would want ourselves to go through” (Stinson).
Alison Howard, Director of Alliance Relations at Alliance Defending Freedom, told Care Net that this new concern with patient experience is inconsistent with Planned Parenthood’s record of opposing even the most basic clinic safety standards. She is concerned by problems at the abortion giant that cannot be addressed with mere cosmetic improvements. “To ignore basic medical standards and simply make a waiting room look prettier is essentially putting lipstick on a pig,” Howard noted.
Planned Parenthood is already the largest abortion supplier in the United States and it depends heavily on Medicaid funding and government grants. But maintaining and expanding their franchise depends on overcoming a huge obstacle: it’s not a pleasant place to go.
So, partnering with consulting firm Ideo, Planned Parenthood recently reevaluated its waiting rooms, recovery rooms, forms, and the way staff are trained. It also began work on an app, started the “Well Woman Plus” project, and developed a patient-oriented website to advertise all of these changes (normalizing abortion in the process). Their plan is to bring patients back, convincing them to trust Planned Parenthood as a “long-term, primary care option for both women and men” (Stinson). They will expand services through “Well Woman Plus,” a program to offer preventive health screenings including breast exams, pap tests, and birth control consultations. Of course, abortion will be a very profitable product on their service menu.
Like any profitable business, Planned Parenthood knows that a pleasant experience enhances trust and leads to repeat customers. It also makes it more likely that women will turn to Planned Parenthood when they are making a pregnancy decision. And when that happens, they are typically offered only one product: abortion. Women who choose to welcome their child do not receive additional help with their pregnancy and personal well-being needs from Planned Parenthood.
Unlike abortion businesses, Care Net centers are innovative and hospitable community based nonprofits. Centers provide a safe and compassionate space to receive information, support, and often medical services. Centers never profit from a woman’s pregnancy decision. More than 2.3 million women and families have benefitted from the services of Care Net centers since 2008. Nearly all these visitors say they would recommend their local center to a friend.
We suggest that if Planned Parenthood really wants to improve patient experience, they remove abortion from their business model and focus on supporting women and couples in making positive choices, as pregnancy centers already do so well.
Alana Varley is Care Net's Center Services Intern. Alana is a current Sophomore at Patrick Henry College studying literature.
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