89 years later

The self-service concept was introduced in the grocery industry in World War I, and is only now making it into hospitals.

From the Piggly Wiggly website.

Piggly Wiggly®, America’s first true self-service grocery store, was founded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1916 by Clarence Saunders. In grocery stores of that time, shoppers presented their orders to clerks who gathered the goods from the store shelves. Saunders, a flamboyant and innovative man, noticed this method resulted in wasted time and man hours, so he came up with an unheard-of solution that would revolutionize the entire grocery industry: he developed a way for shoppers to serve themselves.

From the July 1 Information Week.

When patients of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center check in for same-day surgery or preadmission testing, they no longer need to wait a half-hour or more to be called by hospital registration workers to complete paperwork.

That’s because in April, the 671-bed teaching hospital in Newark, N.J., rolled out self-service kiosks…Not only is the new automated check-in process quicker and more efficient, it greatly reduces the amount of cumbersome registration paperwork needed, not to mention patient anxiety levels that tend to mount when people need to wait before a medical procedure…

UPC coding is another grocery innovation that’s been belatedly adopted by hospitals. And there are a number of other consumer oriented practices we take for granted in the supermarket but don’t see in health care, including:

  • Extended hours
  • Customer service booths
  • One stop shopping
  • Price competition
  • Clearly stated prices
  • Loyalty programs
July 5, 2005

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