Category: Patient Stakeholders

Why Do Doctors Hate Their Computers?

Check this out. What you will see is not the quick blog post that I usually send you to for a quick burst of profundity. Nope. This is a rather extensive and well written New Yorker article that sets out to answer this important question. Read it! Although the article goes on for pages, its message is summarized in one great quote: “…three years later I’ve come to feel that a system that promised to increase my mastery over my work has, instead, increased my work’s mastery over me.” Several important points are made here. First, physicians thoroughly understand that digitization is necessary to support medical care in 2018 and beyond. AND. They are clearly among the most tech savvy of all professions. So, what’s the problem? As you read over these pages, the answer here becomes painfully clear. Doctors believe, and apparently rightfully so, that these systems are designed without taking into consideration the contextin which the physician works. What used to be done in just a few keystrokes now requires many. Interfaces are built based on “political” concerns, rather than “technical.” The costs involved in setting up a computer system like the one described here are huge. In the $Billions. AND. The quantity and quality of the medical care being delivered actually decrease substantially while the practitioners wrestle with the new software. Bottom Line. Funny. Sort of. We live in a world that increasingly wants to compensate physicians based on “quality of care” and “outcomes,” yet we foist computer systems like this on them.  Not fair!

“Smart Thermometers” Track the Flu Season

Check out this NYT story. You will see “smart thermometers,” i.e., temperature taking devices that upload their data to a company website, being used to track the flu epidemic across the U.S. You should also check out the home page of the company that makes these thermometers. Bottom Line. Here we go again. A health-related gadget. And an accompanying app. Will this offering scale up, or descend forever into oblivion? Asked slightly differently, does the smart thermometer meet a big enough need that it will get a sizable percentage of the American population past “gee whiz” to “must have?” Place your bets!

Mammograms and Mimosas

  Check out this post. You will see a group of women, pictured above, making a social event out of getting their mammograms together. Making an otherwise unpleasant medical event something to smile about. Rather than experience a mammogram as an isolated, lonely and cold event, they made a party out of it! Bottom Line. Think of the possibilities here. I am betting that helping patients to organize social-medical events like this one is a far better way of getting them to participate in important screening than simply telling them, one more time, how important these screenings are!  

Navigating the Healthcare System

Maze As Dr. Linda, a clear-thinking PCP observes in this piece, many patients need help in negotiating the complexities of the “Healthcare System.”  Translated, this means that getting procedures, medications, etc. authorized for payment can be a real challenge. She goes on to point out, however, that there are principles for patients to follow in getting this accomplished. Educating patients on these principles, motivating them to stay in the fight and to ask for help if necessary are all important pieces of this puzzle. Bottom Line. I keep thinking that if we turned this navigation challenge over to Amazon to solve, they could readily develop a painless way for patients to work the healthcare system to get what they need.   Some out-of-the-box thinking is clearly required here!

Too Close for Comfort

  Pulse Check out this post. What you will see is story of an Ob/Gyn who learns a lesson from a patient. A lesson about how important little gestures of support can be for a patient who has just been told that she is having a miscarriage. Little gestures like offering a quiet room for the patient to use to call her husband. Or the doctor walking out with the patient to show that she cares. Bottom Line. In our previous post, we talked about the importance of understanding “trust” in the physician patient relationship. What does it mean? How does a doctor create it? So. Today’s word is “support.” And the questions are the same. What does it mean? How does a doctor create it?  What other words/concepts like this are important for us to understand? Hint. Spend some time roaming around the site from which we pulled this post.  See if you can come up with another word or two that will help to tune your ear to “voices from the heart of medicine.”

What Does “Trust” Mean To A Patient???

What Does Trust Mean To A Patient? Take a couple of minutes to read this “essay.”  Funny.  We use words like “trust” all the time, without stopping to ponder their meaning.  BUT. As this Ob/Gyn makes crystal clear, we should stop and think about such words.  When we do, we can come to some very important realizations. For example, as this article points out, trust is at the center of the physician-patient relationship, which in turn is at the heart of the practice of medicine. AND. For the physician-patient relationship to work, each party must trust the other. Finally. Patient trust results from a complicated combination of things that the doctor controls, things that the patient controls and things that are inherent in the situation in which they find themselves. Think about that trichotomy when you read the cases that the blogger describes in this post. Bottom Line. Trust. A simple word. Or maybe not!

Patient Centricity in Two Minutes

ZS Patient Centricity is a term that has gotten a lot of attention in our industry in 2017. But what does it really mean, and how does a company build patient centricity into its product development process? In this two minute video, you will see a ZS professional briefly, yet thoroughly, explain the four pillars that  support the patient centricity vision. Appropriately, the first of these pillars is gaining an understanding of the patients’ perspective in the treatment area under study. It is on this pillar that everything else is based. And the last of these pillar is engagement, through which long term connectivity with the patient is attained. Bottom Line. Two major takeaways here. First, a clear understanding of the elements necessary to attain patient centricity. Second, a clear understanding of just how much a succinct presentation, that reduces narrative blither to understandable steps and graphics that clearly present these steps, can contribute to the learning process. Well done!  

FDA Study Finds Patients Are Better Off With Simpler DTC Ads

Law 360 This one won’t take us long, folks. This URL only takes you to a study summary unless you are a subscriber. But, due to the commonsense nature of the study findings, I am guessing that is all you will need.  It seems that the FDA, once again demonstrating its penchant for proving the obvious, has found that patients can be overwhelmed by overwhelming amounts of side effect information in DTC advertisements for prescription products. Duh! Bottom Line. People, this is getting silly. The more I see TV advertisements for drugs to be used in Oncology, Cardiology, Rheumatology and other complicated therapeutic areas, the more I am overwhelmed by peoples’ absurd belief that we need to give patients enough information about drugs’ side effects for them to make an informed treatment decision about using the drug. Missing in the ads are such little details as the efficacy of the drug up against other therapeutic options, relative incidence and severity of side effects against the other options, etc.  OH  Also missing is the realization that all these advertisements were ever designed to do was to get the patient to ask her physician about the product, NOT to let her make the prescribing decision herself.  Why are we giving patients these silly lists of side effects, including such informative phrases as “some of these may be fatal?”And then spending tax payer dollars to study whether viewers are informed or confused? Why indeed?


blackboard Check out this BMS initiative. Seeking to give real meaning to the concept of patient centricity, the company set out to develop a working plan for communicating with patients, not to patients but with patients, in a language that they understand. And that they believe. And that they are motivated by. Note: This is NOT about crafting commercials, but rather is about generating a “Universal Patient Language.” Co-created by patients, not generated by “creatives” in a vacuum.  Bottom Line. Read this. Think about this. Why must each patient communications effort be “one off?” How about if we develop a body of knowledge, and a universal patient language, that can serve us well in every communications effort related to patient centricity? Why not???

Male Care Givers

Care givers This is sort of embarrassing. In the several years (AAAHHH!!!) that I have been pounding out these blogs, I don’t think I have ever even used the term “care giver.” Worse, during the decades (AAAHHH!!!) that I did healthcare research, I don’t think I ever had a client that asked me to do a study of care givers. How can that be? Care givers, by definition, are actively involved in meeting the medical needs of patients. We use terms like “patient engagement,” “patient centered,” “patient journey,” etc., but never give much thought to those who are in many ways actually in charge. Wow! Let me try to correct these shortfalls today by referring you to this important AARP offering. The title of the piece is “Breaking Stereotypes,” which is very appropriate terminology considering that if we think of care givers at all, we typically picture the long-suffering wife or daughter. Read the piece. It is worth your time. You will come to realize that care givers provide basic household support. Finances, transportation, food shopping. You will also learn that they are typically the ones in charge of the medical care of their care recipient. You will discover that in many cases, the care giver must balance those activities with other activities, including a career! AND. You will learn that they are stressed! Bottom Line. After you read this article, spend a few minutes pondering the ways in which care givers should be included in the work that we do related to understanding and serving patients.  And join me in my promise never to forget these people again as I ponder a health care issue!