One of our soccer teammates has been hospitalized with a fractured tibia and torn meniscus. As bad as that sounds, it gets worse… As I was iChatting with her last night, I mentioned how glad I was that she was, at the very least, able to get a wi-fi connection since she was going to be in the hospital recovering for a while. Well, she wasn’t actually. She had to use dial-up.

I’m not talking about a rural hospital. I’m not talking about a suburban hospital. I’m talking about New York – Presbyterian, The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, in New York City. One of the world’s leading, most groundbreaking Ivy League university hospitals.

Yet, they don’t provide their doctors, staff, patients, or their visitors, with wireless internet.

Why make such a big deal about it? Well imagine you are my friend in the hospital. A young, high-powered NYC attorney with a broken leg, stuck in the hospital. We don’t communicate the same way we used to – even five years ago. Today, pre-teens all the way up to adults as old as 80+ years old e-mail, text and iChat with their friends. There’s even a cute 30 second spot on TV now for AT&T where the grandmother is texting her “BFF Rose.” So you have the hospital patient uncomfortable already, and not being able to communicate in a way they are accustomed, not to mention all the missed work piling up that could get worked on with a high-speed connection. Oh, and imagine the convenience if a doctor needed to look up some medical question and didn’t have to go back to the 9th floor of the B wing to his little office to find an answer to a simple question.

Exeter Hospital, in Exeter, New Hampshire, got it right as far as patient comfort is concerned. They do many things other hospitals have overlooked. And yes, they offer free wi-fi throughout the entire hospital with clearly marked signage. Their patients aren’t patients. They’re guests.

What would happen if every company and organization treated their customers as guests, instead of as customers, clients, vendors, members or patients?