Category: Habit Marketing

How to Break Your Bad Pandemic Habits

Check this out. What you will see is a physician’s tips on how to break the bad habits that you developed during the pandemic. Overeating is a major one of these habits. 42% of the respondents to one survey reported that they had gained weight during the pandemic, with an increased poundage of an amazing 29 pounds.  Increased alcohol consumption, smoking and vaping were also high on the list of bad habits that flourished.  Anxiety, depression and sleep disorders also raised their ugly heads during these hellacious months. Many people, of course, manifested more than one of these newly formed bad habits, and this blogging physician wisely recommends not trying to jettison them all at once.

Bottom Line. Perhaps the saddest part of these negative outcomes is the promise we made to ourselves when “lockdowns” began. Remember? We were going to use this newly found isolation to do something really special. Learn a new language. Catch up on books that have long been on our reading list. Etc. Well, for most of us, things simply didn’t work out that way, and now we need to scramble to get back to our healthier, pre-pandemic status quo.

The best guidance offered in this piece is that we be “intentional” with our time. Be mindful of metering out time for good activities, thus allowing less time for bad habitual behaviors to manifest themselves.

That’s good advice! I’m working on it myself!!!

Multifactorial Obesity

Check this out. What you will see is a reminder to physicians of the variety of psychological, social, and environmental factors that cannot only contribute to patients developing obesity, but as importantly, to their failure to comply with a treatment plan. 

And the explanation here is very well worded. The factors listed above don’t, at the most fundamental level, really cause obesity and treatment failure. Rather, they “…can trigger existing genetic substrates to promote obesity.” That’s different. Evolutionary Psychology (Go read this book!) teaches us that thousands of years ago, our ancestors on the savannah who learned to “calorie pack” were more likely to survive in a food-scarce environment, and thus more likely to pass those genes down to us today. When triggered, the behavior caused by these genes can cause obesity that is extremely unhealthy and difficult to modify.

Bottom Line. As I continue to ply my trade of marketing research, I have become increasingly convinced of the importance of learning to understand the layers of what I call the Behavior Pyramid. For example, most pharmaceutical marketing research focuses on physician prescribing “decisions.” But very few behaviors are actually based on decisions. Dig a little deeper, and you will find that most behavior is the result of habits. Look one more layer down, as in obesity, and you will find the impact of genetics.

Yup. Understanding these layers is important to physicians treating obesity, and to those of us who study these doctors!

An Introduction To “Habit Marketing”

For the last couple of years, my colleagues at ThinkGen and I have been working on a major paradigm shift for pharmaceutical marketers and marketing researchers. A shift that takes them from a focus on “influencing prescribing decisions” and has them refocus on “developing physician habits.” Why? Because most physician prescribing is habitual, rather than being the result of a carefully thought out prescribing decision process for treating each patient. Realizing this fundamentally changes the way marketers market and researchers research.

BUT. Not everybody in the pharma vertical has had the habit marketing epiphany. In an effort to spread the word, my colleague Audrey Wu and I have developed a 45 minute webinar presentation that describes the nuts and bolts of the why’s and how’s of habit marketing. I know that this is a big-time commitment but trust me. Once you realize the importance of habits, both preexisting and new, to understanding marketing, you will never think about selling your company’s products the same way again.  

Bottom Line.  Here’s the presentation.  Give it a whirl!

Addicted Medical Professionals

Numbers are one thing. Like, 10-15% of medical professionals will, at some point in their lives, become involved in substance abuse. But as usual, numbers don’t quite tell the whole story. Check this out. In this rather lengthy post (No need to read all of it. Just skim!) what you will see is stories. Verbatim recounts of their problems from medical professionals who have gotten into trouble with alcohol and drugs. Focus on the words. You can feel the pain.  

As a pathetic aside, you will also learn some of the tricks that these professionals use to enable their addiction. Like the doctor who filled the windshield washer reservoir in his car with bourbon so that he could imbibe undetected as he drove from hospital to hospital. Or the doctor who agreed to make a house-call so that he could steal back the narcotics he had prescribed.

Bottom Line. In his seminal book, How Doctors Think,  Jerome Groopman makes a major contribution to our understanding of our physician customers. He helps us to understand that rather than going through a careful check list of diagnostic and treatment considerations, doctors actually use pattern recognition, often very quickly, to reach their diagnoses, and typically make prescribing decisions based primarily on habit. As my ThinkGen colleague Dr. Neale Martin puts it so succinctly, “Expertise is what happens when knowledge enters the Habitual Mind.”

BUT. This post helps us to understand that there are other forms of habits, addictions, that can play an unfortunately disruptive and important role in “How Doctors Think.”  We need to understand all of this if we are going to lay claim to being truly customer centric.  

Death By Patient Satisfaction

I’ve done riffs on the craziness of evaluating and compensating physicians based on patient satisfaction before. But you will find new, and humorous, insights on the topic by going here. In brief, the blogging ER doc that penned this piece makes it extremely clear that, maybe especially in the ER, it is difficult to view the concept of patient satisfaction as being a reasonable measure of the quality of the medical care being delivered.  

This is really sort of a fascinating siren song. It seems so reasonable in the abstraction to be fretting over, and measuring, patient satisfaction.  But as the examples posted here rather clearly indicate, considering patient satisfaction as an important parameter to use in gauging the quality of care being delivered is, well, just silly.  

But wait. It is even worse than that. As my colleague Dr. Neale Martin points out in his seminal book, Habit, there is basically no correlation between customer satisfaction and repurchase behavior. In any area of commerce! Why? As Neale explains, customer satisfaction research taps into our Executive Minds, that have to be engaged to answer marketing research questions. BUT. Most purchase decisions are made based on habits that reside in the Habitual Mind, an unconscious level unreachable through questionnaires.  

Bottom Line. Maybe it is time for everyone to stop fielding those annoying “customer satisfaction” questionnaires. I don’t know about you, but no matter how satisfied I am with a product or service, I can become dissatisfied rather quickly if you ask me a bunch of annoying “satisfaction” questions.  AND, as Neale explains, our answers don’t matter anyway!!!

Is Gastroenterology Just Like Every Other Specialty???

Check this out. What you will see is a post that posits that trends that are occurring across healthcare can be viewed as fractal repeats of one specialty, Gastroenterology. Samesies! Wearables. Robotic surgery. Etc. True? I’m not sure, but I am fairly sure that looking for patterns like this blogging physician is doing is a good thing. Finding repeating patterns can be a great way of getting in touch with “What’s next,” and adapting accordingly.  

Bottom Line. More generally, I believe it is always instructive to turn new lenses on situations we are trying to understand. At ThinkGen, for example, we have spent the last year looking at pharmaceutical marketing challenges through the lens of Habit Marketing. Even for a guy like me, who has spent the better part of a half a century studying physician behavior, the “Habit Lens” has been full of revelations. You can experience one of these ah-hah moments by going here and listening to Noah Pines tell the story of habit marketing and share a case study. The case study, based on only 30 interviews (many of which I conducted myself), blew my mind (and the client’s!) with what new insights a researcher can garner by using a new lens.

Good stuff!