Category: Recommendations

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. 

The Cartoon Shrink

It’s an easy post today. No profound points being offered for you to ponder.  

BUT. I still have a URL that I think is worth a little bit of your time. Check it out.

Just roam around a little bit. What you will see is the work of a psychiatrist who uses stick cartoons and brief thought bubbles to communicate  some very important and complex thoughts. For example, check out the one on blood clots and the J&J vaccine. In a few frames, the low risk of the side effect, the reason it happens, the side effects to look out for and what to do when they do are all covered. Or think about the cartoon, later in the series, that explains narcissism in terms that a non-psychiatrist can understand.  

Bottom Line. Think about a communications challenge in your own job that might be handled very well by using such simple techniques rather than a lengthy and complicated PowerPoint slide show!  

I Am Not You!!!

Today I have a fascinating little story. Well off my usual beaten path. It is the story of Dr. Anthony Fleg, who as a medical student decided to get out of his books for a while and look at the real world. In his case, that meant taking trips to visit important battle grounds for the civil rights movement. 

One of these sojourns took him to Birmingham, where he got to listen to a sermon delivered by Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, the gentleman on the left of the picture here. A valiant soldier for civil rights. In the sermon, he heard Shuttlesworth describe the  massive explosion at his home. Dynamite planted by segregationists on Christmas night. And the conversation he had with a KKK card carrying cop on the scene, who offered Fred the following guidance. “If I were you, I’d get out of town as quick as I could.” 

Following a pregnant pause, Shuttlesworth calmly responded, “I am not you!” Check this out to get the whole story.

Bottom Line. As usual, this story got me to thinking. What do we actually mean when we say to someone, “If I were you…?” For a KKK cop to say that to Shuttlesworth was clearly the ultimate in chutzpah. The policeman had absolutely no knowledge of what it was like to be Fred.  

But more generally, who do we know well enough to use that pointed phrase? Think about that the next time you are about to utter those four words. Or hear them said to you. 

BTW, take three minutes of your time to watch the John Legend video at the end of this doctor’s blog. The pictures and the music will help you to really understand…

“Teaching” Kids About LGBTQ

Check this out. What you will see is a four-minute video of a PCP emphasizing the importance of teaching kids, as early as possible and in an organized and nonjudgmental manner, about LGBTQ issues. As a Lesbian herself, this doctor knows that absent such education, informal “learnings” about LGBTQ will likely be negative and lead to more bias, bullying, suicides, etc.

Bottom Line. I am thinking that there is a general principle here that might help to get our society on a better course. Substitute teaching about the real world for some of the goofy stuff that kids spend time on in school in 2021.  

My favorite example? I think back to my sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania, spending hours learning to dissect and interpret a sonnet.  

I had to do this because…???

The “Charting Coach”

Who would have thunk it??? Check this out. What you will see is a family physician who has made a business out of helping physicians free themselves up from the heartbreak of charting “backlog.” Doctor after doctor with whom I have spoken, especially in recent years, has reported having problems in this area. One physician comes to mind who had been up at 4:30 AM the Friday of our conversation, busily pounding away at patient charting. He reported that he would be similarly occupied that night, and well into Saturday morning.

Bottom Line. The major point of this “Charting Coach” is that backlogs are better avoided than dealt with ex post facto. For example, charting after each patient visit is much more efficient, and more psychologically healthy, than doing all of the charts at the end of the clinical day.  

Words to live by in our own careers! “I can always do it  later” is typically not a good thing to be saying to yourself!!!

Trust Can Be A Problem???

Check this out. What you will quickly get from this piece is the realization that trust can indeed be problematic. I’ve seen this myself in cases where I have trusted people to do things, and have then been too disorganized and/or lazy to take responsibility for making sure that the things actually get done.

The right balance, as pointed out so clearly by this consulting physician, might be called “organized trust.” The first principle here is to assume that everyone involved has good intentions. BUT. If trust is to be a positive rather than a negative force, that assumption must be accompanied by shared and explicit goal setting, agreed upon norms for communication and established points for “checking in.”

Bottom Line. As you can tell by this post and by the previous two, I have been playing around the last few posts with the concept of “trust.” The first piece in the trilogy dealt with an Anesthesiologist who was “trusted,” but who diverted drugs from his patients for his own use. His colleagues trust was so strong, in fact, that they turned their eyes away from his aberrant behavior and were unwilling to blow the whistle on him.

In the second post, we dealt with the fact that in today’s healthcare system, the leaders, a.k.a. Hospital Administrators, are not “eating last.” Physicians are increasingly being called upon to trust MBA’s who are pushing doctors away from the table until they have satiated themselves. Not good.

And today, we are advised that blind trust is not desirable. Rather, we need to establish a more organized and informed kind of trust if we are to avoid disappointing outcomes.  

Spend some time thinking about trust today. It is an important concept in our work. And in our lives!

Call 911 And Get A Shrink Instead Of A Cop

Check this out.  What you will see is an article that describes a forward-thinking Oregon program known as CAHOOTS, Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets. The premise here is a simple one, i.e.,  police should not be involved in rendering aid to people, like the man shown in the picture above, who are homeless due to mental health problems. Why? Three main reasons. First, the skill sets of a policeman are not required to deal with the vast majority of such cases. While many people associate mental illness with violence, most homeless people with mental health problems are a risk only to themselves. Second, police have far too little training to be dealing with such issues. Better to get a mental health tech, counselor or social worker out on the streets to deal with such issues. Finally, policemen are very expensive city employees. Mental health workers, sadly enough, are less so. Real money can be saved by a municipality by using mental health workers instead of cops.

Bottom Line. Interesting that this program is only being evaluated by a few cities, but it is encouraging that the number of municipalities is on the rise. Seems like a win-win situation.

And, as Detective Columbo would say, there is just one more thing. In 2019, with the recent bad press about police shooting innocent people in their homes, the fact that the CAHOOTS gang shows up in jeans rather than in blue uniforms has got to be of comfort, especially to a mentally ill homeless person.


“Shadowing” In Health Care

Check this out. What you will see is an argument that it is a shame that there is not more of an opportunity for “shadowing” in healthcare. If you are thinking about being an attorney, you can go watch one at work in a court room. Dad a plumber and you are thinking about being one too? Go spend a day with him on the job. Thinking about becoming a doctor? You find science interesting, but what is being a doctor really like? What patient care situation will allow a university student “in” to discover if the world of medicine is really something to which they should dedicate 14 years of study and the rest of their lives? Bottom Line. Here’s the kicker. Medical schools and Physician Assistant programs often require 100’s of hours of “documented” shadowing for consideration for admission. Schools understandably want applicants to know what it is like to be an HCP. BUT. Privacy issues and the sheer number of potential applicants make finding shadowing opportunities a challenge.  Solutions?

Understanding The Money Trail

Check this out. What you will see is a thoughtful article by a business minded physician. The point of the article? Doctors need to “understand their worth.” 

For example, a recent article reported that the average hospitalist brings in about $2.4 Million in annual hospital revenue. SO. Doing some rapid calculations, this means that the doctor is operating with 90% overhead. Is this “fair?” As usual, who knows what “fair” actually means???

As this blogging physician freely admits, knowing how the money stream flows won’t necessarily get a hospital to pay the doctor more. But having an understanding of the economics surrounding a doctor’s practice seems like a logical first step in the direction of understanding her worth.

Bottom Line. Hey, wait a minute. Maybe this would be a good idea for all of us. Understanding our financial contribution to our employers might well serve as a valuable reality check.  

In the research agencies and consulting businesses that I have run, we think this way all the time and compensate our team members accordingly. How would you go about doing this if you work for a drug company? I would need to give that some more thought! 

Staying Power!!!

Seth Godin Amazing. It has been 20 years, two decades, that Seth Godin has been preaching the gospel of Permission Marketing. I got that religion way back then, paid to have Seth come and speak at a PMRG conference that I was chairing so that I could meet him, and have never looked at marketing the same way since. BUT. Apparently not everyone has figured out yet that marketing is something that we do with our “tribe,” not something we do to strangers. For those who have not yet had this epiphany, Seth is offering remedial Summer School. Check it out. For a measly $445, you can watch 50 videos that will get you up to speed on Permission Marketing. I sort of got the basics by reading a $15 book, but that was then and now is now. Want to understand a little bit more about what you will get for the money you invest in this seminar? Let Seth describe it to you himself Bottom Line. Amazing. Just amazing! As I listen to Seth’s description of this seminar, he is mouthing virtually the same words that I bought into hook, line and sinker 20 years ago. AND. He is making money by doing it, using today’s digital technology!!! What’s the amazing part? It is the fact that when we sit down to watch TV, or pick up the phone with a telemarketer on the other end, or look at magazines and need to wade through ads, we remember that most marketers are still doing the old fashioned (pre-Seth), “YOU HOLD THEM, I’LL HIT THEM” bombardment type marketing. AND. Nonetheless, there are still enough people interested in learning the right way to do things that Seth is making a nice profit from this remedial Summer School. Clearly, Seth has identified a gig that will keep him going for the rest of his career. Simple insight. Permission Marketing. Think about this in terms of the application of Seth’s brilliance, and think of it in terms of “ah-hah” experiences that you might have that could provide you with a perpetual annuity!!!