Category: Physician Engagement

The “Power of the Personal”

Check this out. In this brief video, you will see the neurologist pictured above, who pontificates under the pen name “Dr. Wisdom,” describe a trick that he learned over his decades working with his colleagues at Kaiser. One such colleague, a Dr. Edelson, taught him the “My wife had that” technique.” Huh? It works like this. Rather than going off on a long scientific riff to explain a condition to a patient, Dr. Edelson’s approach sounds like this: “You have the HurtsLikeHell Syndrome. My wife had that a few years back, and she’s doing fine.” Especially in a field like neurology, where the pathophysiology is often unknown and treatments are aimed at symptom relief rather than cure, using this tactic rather than a long scientific riff that goes nowhere is likely of great benefit.

Bottom Line. We are now finding this to be true in convincing our 10,000 patients at the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic on Hilton Head Island, SC to get their COVID vaccinations. Rather than making an argument based on science, our clinicians are basing their appeal on trust. Our patients are told: “You can believe that this vaccine is safe, because we all had it and we’re fine.” 

The personal, rather than the technical, often is the better explanation. 

Neurosurgery Meets Cosmetology

Check this out. What you will see is a story of a male Neurosurgeon being taught by some of his female staff the importance of a patient’s hair after surgery. Not just a water and alcohol rinse. Nope. Using a cosmetically elegant shampoo and conditioner! 

The benefit to the patient, he learned, is in realizing that the surgical team had helped her to take the first step back toward human normalcy immediately after the dehumanizing process of having her head opened up to remove a tumor. AND. An unintended consequence was that it also made the OR staff feel more human in the process. 

Bottom Line. Amazing how little dollops of civility can enhance the healthcare experience! 

Gut Girl, M.D.

Check this out. What you will see is a video by Dr. Dawn Sears. She’s known as “Gut Girl” because she is a Gastroenterologist, but for another reason as well. Besides her successful practice, she’s had the guts to establish a consulting business that, among other things, helps medical institutions achieve more engagement from their female physicians by setting up programs that avoid burnout, clean up toxic environments, reduce sexual harassment, etc.  

Bottom Line. It’s interesting. Most of the physicians with consulting “side gigs” like this that I have sent you to have been female. When male physicians do side gigs, they focus more on successful financial planning for doctors.  

Gender stereotyping strikes again?

The Uncertain Future Of Medical Meetings

Check this out. What you will see is a very thought-provoking article concerning the future of medical meetings. Interesting stuff. Like many activities pre-pandemic, physicians historically dealt with medical meetings primarily out of habit. Those that attended them did so routinely. Same conferences every year. Not a lot of decision making involved. Those who stayed away also did so out of habit.

But along comes the pandemic, and medical meetings ground to a halt, likely for a total period of two years. So, here’s the question. When the all clear is sounded and medical meetings start up again, will anybody go?

This article makes a good point. Medical meetings are sort of an anachronism. In the good old days, it was important for doctors to show up in “The Grand Ballroom” to find out the year’s most important developments in their specialty. But now is different. Developments happen daily, not annually, and digital media ensure rapid dissemination of the latest and greatest.

Bottom Line. My conversations with physicians for my On Doctors’ MindsSM project has revealed that physician reconsideration of previously habitual behavior has been a major result of the pandemic. Doctors used to see Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives out of habit. Now they question whether this is worthwhile. Office based doctors used to avoid getting involved in telemedicine out of habit. The pandemic forced them to reconsider this decision. And then there is attendance at medical meetings…

SO. What will the “New Normal” actually look like???

Stress Free MD!!!

Check this out. What you will find is a Web site offering seminars, etc. designed to reduce the stress of being a physician. We’ve talked about this before. Physicians walking away from clinical practice and getting into the Zen-like business of helping their colleagues to enjoy life and avoid burnout. There are already a lot of sites like this, and their numbers seem to be growing rapidly.

Bottom Line. As usual, I am left wondering. Wondering how well the physicians who have chosen this career path actually make out financially. And existentially. Wondering what are the marketing strategy and tactics that characterize a successful site. 

The final thing I wonder about here? Is there an opportunity for us to step in and apply the vast resources of the pharmaceutical industry and the behavioral sciences to providing these services?  

I am betting that there is!

Thoughts And Prayers

Lord knows, this expression, like “out of an abundance of caution,” has been used ad nauseam in 2020. Both expressions, it should be added, had good reason to be frequently used in the era of police brutality, rioting, looting, and COVID-19.  

But check this out. What you will see is a thoughtful (pun intended) blog by an Osteopathic physician on “thoughts.” How an honest assessment of one’s thoughts is an appropriate first step in a process that then goes on to explore the relationship between thoughts and feelings, what kinds of behaviors these thoughts and feelings are leading to, and finally an inventory of the “results” and the questioning as to whether these are the outcomes that we truly desire. Based on the outcomes of these steps, we can decide whether or not we need to redirect our thought processes.  

But why did I send you to this URL? Because I happened to see the site’s name, “Osteopathic Life,” got curious and wanted to share my curiosity with you as I often do. You see, over the years I have thought every so often about Osteopaths. Words like “holistic” and “manipulation therapy” came to mind. A softer, gentler form of medicine than that practiced by their “allopathic” colleagues. For a good, albeit somewhat biased, explanation of how osteopathic medicine is different, go to this explanation from PCOM in my old home town.  

Bottom Line. In the United States, Osteopaths were long considered not to be “real doctors.” In much of the world, they still aren’t. BUT. U.S. Osteopaths are now present in most of the major medical specialties. AND. In many cases you would not be able to tell the differences in treatment provided by an MD versus a DO. BUT. As you can see if you spend some time roaming around the two URL’s I sent you to today, you will see that DO’s are still somewhat “different.”  

They are our customers too. Do we need to approach them differently???

Doctors Don’t “Communicate” About Medications

Check this out. What you will see is a simple but important thought. Our old friend, The Country Doctor, suggesting that while businesses spend a disproportionately large percentage of their time and effort focused on how to sell something rather than on how to produce it, physicians take the opposite approach. Especially given the increasingly tight limitations on their time, doctors simply cut to the chase, tersely telling patients what medications they need to take and how, and failing to “sell” the drugs and their benefits with anywhere near the same level of intensity that the drugs had been sold to them.  

Bottom Line. So what? So plenty! Consider the impact of all of this on patient adherence. And, perforce, on the doctor-patient relationship.  

Maybe we, as an industry, need to help doctors to become better salespeople. I am thinking that this could result in a triple win. For the doctor, for the patient, and for us!

SEVEN OUT OF TEN DOCTORS . . .

. . . wouldn’t recommend that their kids become doctors! Check this out. What you will learn is that in a national survey of over 3,000 physicians, 70% of them would tell their kids to avoid their own chosen profession. AND. The next story says that 54% of U.S. physicians plan to retire in the next five years. Yikes! Bottom Line. I may not be the brightest bulb in the hardware store, but I am guessing that these two statements combine to augur a rapid and significant increase in the “doctor shortage.” AND. I am guessing this is not just a numbers game. What happens to the quality of U.S. medical care if the “best and the brightest” head off down other career paths?  This is sort of like global warming. You can only ignore this for just so long before the ecosystem becomes irrevocably broken. Somebody better start figuring out some clever ways to reverse what is happening here. And soon!

THIS COUNTRY DOCTOR IS A WISE DOCTOR INDEED!!!

He may be a country doctor, but he makes a lot of very good points in his posts. And this an especially good one. In it, he makes the point that in business, the only rewards that you can really sell people are good feelings and the solutions to problems. In Primary Care, it’s a little different. In that setting, he explains, people also show up looking for one or both of two kinds of rewards. The straightforward one is the relief of their pain. Yup. The other outcome people are seeking is for the physician to assuage their fears. Yup again. My ThinkGen colleagues and I are spending a lot of time working on Habits. Habits of doctors. Habits of patients. I’ve told you about that already. One of the most fascinating parts of the exploration of physician habits is gaining a better understanding what “rewards” build strong physician habits. For example, I talked to a colleague of mine who is an expert in marketing pharmaceutical products to Oncologists. She told me about a fascinating “day in the life of” study she did with that specialty. I asked her the most important thing she learned. Her response was that she had learned that Oncologists weren’t really looking for “good drugs.” They were looking for drugs that made them look like heroes. Bottom Line. Think about it. What do doctors get out of prescribing your product? Relieves pain or quells fears? Better be one or both of those, or something else that is really reinforcing. That’s what patients are looking for, so that is what doctors are looking for.  Think about it!

The Real Value Of A Physician-Patient Relationship

Check this out. What you will see is a fascinating NYT article. Warning. It is long, but worth it. The punchline is that it is possible, through experimentation, to determine the dollar value of the physician-patient relationship. How? By comparing what happens to patients (outcomes, cost of treatment, etc.) when they are treated by the same doctor regardless of setting vs. when they get turfed from their PCP to a Hospitalist. Bottom Line. At the end of the article, you get hit with the real punchline. While in 2018 it is extremely important to evaluate the “best” care model in terms of “value,” it is also extremely important to discern what model provides the best “meaning.” Translated, cheapest is not necessarily best when viewed from the patient’s perspective. OR. From the doctor’s!