Category: Physician Engagement

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!

Fixing Medicine by Fixing the “Broken Windows”

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-11-57-03-am Check this out.  What you will see is one doctor’s recommendations on how to go about fixing what is wrong with the practice of medicine in 2018. You know, things that lead to physician discontent, burnout and maybe even suicide. Take a look at the list.  What you will see are “little things.” Like reserved parking spaces and hospitable doctors’ lounges. The disappearance of these little touches, he believes, is like the broken windows that Mayor Rudy Giuliani fixed in NY. Rudy believed that if you allow broken windows to remain unfixed in a place like Times Square, the neighborhood rapidly goes to hell in a handbasket. Crime increases, buildings become abandoned, etc.  Sounds goofy at first blush, but His Honor used this theory as the basis for reviving NYC. Will demanding that they not be called “practitioners” and that they be provided with reserved parking spaces take physicians back to the good old days? Hey, it’s a start. Bottom Line. Think about the list of simple fixes that this blogging physician provides. I am guessing that if all of these things were taken care of, doctors would be a lot happier than they are now.  More generally, rethink the importance of Giuliani’s “Broken Windows” theory.  If you allow things to go a little wrong, they get a lot wrong pretty quickly. BUT. If you fix those windows, things can get a lot better with equal alacrity. Remember that!

What Do Depressed Doctors Do???

Depressed Doctors According to this post by our old friend Dr. Pamela Wible, who has sort of made a specialty of studying doctors run psychologically amuck, depressed doctors do pretty much what everybody else does. They have affairs, hit the bottle, etc.  They also have the ability to purloin drugs, which they often do. Swipe them from drug closets, get bogus prescriptions, etc. BUT. Depressed physicians are also unique in some ways. First, there are so damned many of them, despite the popular image of wealthy doctors living charmed lives. Second, as you can see by some of the vignettes embedded in Pamela’s article, the cause of physician depression is usually no secret. They are depressed by the realities of their profession. Not only the sickness and death parts, but increasingly by their “assembly line” working conditions and their being punished if they stand up for what they think is the right way to practice medicine. Last but far from least, depressed physicians are unique due to the reality that any attempt they might make to get appropriate treatment can throw them into real trouble with their licensure boards! Bottom Line. So, what does all of this mean to us? First, I believe that we need to support Pamela’s efforts to help depressed doctors, and more specifically to help avoid their suicides, which are frequent and increasing. ALSO. We’ve talked before about awareness. About how some things need awareness campaigns and others don’t. I believe that many, if not most, professionals in the commercial side of the healthcare vertical are totally unaware of the physician depression problem. They need to know! Tell them!!!

The Third Degree

    Pulse two Here is an interesting post. Drawn from a blog that focuses in on the telling of actual patient stories to foster the humanistic practice of medicine. Read this piece. Listen to the unnecessary questioning by the medical professionals. Feel what this patient is feeling in the pit of her stomach as she is put through the third degree by people who are apparently totally ignoring what they should be talking about and what the patient wants to be talking about. Bottom Line. As a marketing researcher, I always tried to talk clients out of asking unnecessary questions that, while providing answers that might be “interesting,” were often irrelevant to the business decisions that needed to be made based on the research. In that setting, the only downside was wasted time and money. In the case described here, far more is lost by the asking of unnecessary questions!  

Publishing Before The Idea Is Done

Publishing ideas   In the good old days, which were actually not so long ago, it took a long time to get a scholarly work published. A very long time! Peer review, editing, printing, and distribution by snail mail. All in, a year from start to finish of the process. BUT. Along comes the Internet, and then social media, and now we can “publish” an idea within minutes of it even occurring to us. In some ways this is good news. Doctors used to complain to me regularly that medical journals were way too slow for them to be relied upon to keep “up to date.” BUT. In this recent blog post, an influential Information Age physician comments on the risks attendant to instantaneous publication. No third party, he notes, is now adjudicating the accuracy or the worth of the ideas being set forth. And, given that the space for publication is now unlimited, the triage task of deciding what is worthy of reading is a daunting one. Bottom Line. The blogger has a recommendation. Use the instant publication media for the active and ongoing exchange of ideas, but hold certain juried publications for the sharing of ideas that are “fully baked.” Makes sense!