What is the longest patient visit or exam you’ve EVER had with a Patient? Is is 90-minutes? Was it 2-hours? What if I told you one Concierge Doctor we spoke with recently said she spent more than eight hours with ONE patient?
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief, Concierge Medicine Today, Host, The DocPreneur Leadership Podcast
Why does this example matter?
Well, it matters a lot.
It sets the bar for others in the delivery of healthcare REALLY, REALLY high.
In fact, Concierge Medicine’s obsession with building close, positive relationships with patients is perhaps its greatest driver of its success over the past twenty five years.
Every call, every patient interaction, each smile from a staff member, every text message … represents an opportunity to “wow” someone.
It’s an opportunity to turn a one-time Patient into a loyal, repeat Patient. Ensuring future patient retention and more thoughtful, caring interactions between Physician and Patient.
That’s the mythical creature every Doctor is looking for. It’s the secret sauce that makes your practice unique and why people keep coming back.
You’ve married the Hippocratic Oath with the Golden Rule and guess what, Patients’ responded and said “YES! I’ve been waiting for you to do this!”
It’s as we say a lot around here at CMT, “It’s no longer about being the best Doctor in the world anymore, it’s about being the best Doctor FOR the world, FOR your Patients and FOR your local community.”
You’ve suddenly provided a unique amount of attention towards one Patient that you wish you could do for everyone.
And you then have an inner drive in you saying, ‘I’m going to do that again … and again … and again.’
The goal is progress, not perfection.
And that’s our topic today and subsequent translation into your practice tomorrow. The idea of “DO FOR ONE WHAT YOU WISH YOU COULD DO FOR EVERYONE.”
Now I know what you’re thinking.
That’s not FAIR, Michael. Right?
Believe me. I get it. I’m Canadian. I’m all about FAIRness — especially when it comes to healthcare you might say.
But hear me out.
If you have kids you’ve said these words to them … “Well, life’s not fair … Timmy.”
We teach our kids that life’s not fair.
So important in fact that psychologists and Mom-Blogs talk about it all the time. Heck, you could say a portion of the Internet is dedicated to the topic. Katy Anderson, mother, blogger and writer at Grok Nation which was founded by actress-neuroscientist-mom Mayim Bialik (she played the title character of the NBC sitcom Blossom. She later played neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory), discusses such issues and more in an accessible, relatable and unapologetically nerdy way.
Anderson writes Recently, a new parenting label was coined called the “lawnmower parent” after an anonymous educator wrote a post on weareteachers.com that quickly went viral. In the article the teacher describes “lawnmower parents” who “go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure.” In short, they plow over life’s difficulties for their children to keep them from having to experience them. I can understand this urge, after all, we all face struggles in life at some point and the inclination to guard innocent children from adversity is intense—but it’s impossible to keep kids in a bubble, and if we did, what would they learn? Life is not fair, but it is beautiful, and that may be the most important message of all.
If you’re trying to be a good Physician-parent you’ve also worked to instill these values at a young age in your kids when the consequences aren’t quite so high.
Fast forward to your present day career choice in healthcare and you see and hear (whether you want to or not) that every person around you has an opinion on healthcare don’t they?
But not everyone lives in your shoes as a Physician, right?
They can’t possibly know what it’s like to wake up in your shoes and face the impossible responsibilities you choose to confront day in and day out.
You’re job is tough.
Dare we say, impossible.
I’ve recently been listening to a lot more podcasts to further enhance my knowledge on various topics inside and outside of healthcare.
Some are about healthcare [most actually], some are for pleasure [candle making and canoeing].
I know right, weird! 🙂
And some talk about leadership and have a helpful dove tail into and translation for healthcare.
One topic about misnomers in customer and organizational cultures caught my attention recently.
I listened to it over and over.
The author and writer, Andy Stanley said in the podcast “… you remember growing up we heard teachers say all the time ‘Well if I do it for you I have to do it for everybody … ‘ [So in essence] the reason I couldn’t get an extra Brownie in the school lunch line is … If I gave you one I have to give everyone one. And of course we all thought the same thing when we were told that by an adult ‘uh, no you don’t. You could actually just give me one. It’ll be our secret.’I think somehow this got imprinted in our mind and it became unfortunately a leadership Maxim. ‘If I can’t do it for everybody I’m not going to do it for anybody’ but in a culture that characterized by a collaboration the opposite is true. We look for opportunities to do for one what we wish we could do for everyone and honestly I think sometimes leaders hide behind this I think sometimes.We don’t want to do for anyone what we can do for one … so we hide behind this and say ‘well, if I do it for you I have to do it for everyone’ and I think every once in a while we just need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves ‘Okay, am I hiding behind this?’ If so I’m certainly not modeling something I want throughout the organization because as leaders … and just think about this for a minute … think about what would happen in your particular sphere of influence if everybody within your sphere of influence looked for an opportunity to do for one or two to do for one another what they wish they could do for everyone.I mean everything gets better especially the relationships within the organization so this is in some ways again it’s symbolic leadership. But it’s important leadership and I believe it trickles down throughout the whole organization if a leader models this and then appropriately let it be known how they model this again as we said before it’s not enough to leave well you have to be seen leading well and this is one of those areas where people need to catch us leaving well in modeling this principle. I know what perhaps some of our podcast listeners are thinking they’re like well … ‘wait a minute but that’s not really fair.’ And you’re right. It’s not fair. Do not try to be fair because you cannot be fair. Give up on fairness and be engaged and if you do for one what you wish you could do for everyone you will be engaged and you will model something that can be replicated. If you try to be fair, if you try to treat everybody the same way … at the end of the day you won’t and besides that’s not really what we want to characterize are companies. I mean have you ever heard or read an article about a company that thrived because the company was so fair? ‘We just treated everybody the same and we made sure that everybody got exactly what they deserve.’No, that’s not a leadership principle. In fact you know that’s like trying to lead with both feet on the brakes. So ‘do for one what you wish you could do for everyone’. ~Source: Andy Stanley, Podcast: Creating a Culture of Collaboration
I love these statements because it so beautifully describes what a Patient wants out of their relationship with their Doctor.
And research has proved this to be true. Check our our recent Patient Survey of [Non-Concierge Medicine] Individuals and Families when asked the question this past year “IF YOUR PCP/Family DOCTOR WENT OUT OF BUSINESS TOMORROW, HOW MUCH/LITTLE WOULD YOU CARE?”
Healthcare has tried to be fair.
It hasn’t worked.
Some might argue it is working.
Well, I guess that’s a *fair* statement. Or, is it, really?
You might not be aware of this but I’m actually from Canada so I know what I’m talking about when it comes to “trying to create something *FAIR* that isn’t actually fair at all.”
Case in point, socialized medicine.
That’s not the topic today by the way. And yes, there’s a lot of pros and cons to be hashed out from either side. But that’s a topic for another day.
Back to fairness.
The takeaway for you today is to ask you (i.e. Doctors) have you actually heard how Patients and Doctors react and interact with each other in these systems?
Well, we have.
Some of the stories are great, but many are not.
The patients I’ve met enjoy socialized medicine. In fact, they’re some of the most benevolent people I’ve ever met.
For illustration purposes, here’s a story from Canada that caught our eye.
Under the Canada Health Act, everyone should be entitled to the same level of care irrespective of where they live, states Canadian Physician, Dr. Mark Brown, an advocate for creative changes to improve health care — for patients and physicians.
In the Regina Leader-Post recently … While doctors’ house calls are a thing of the past, imagine patients connecting with their physicians through Facetime, telephone or secure email instead of needing to walk into the office. It’s the vision of Dr. Mark Brown, an advocate for creative changes to improve health care — for patients and physicians. Dr. Brown was noted in the article stating … If family physicians are involved with patients’ care when they’re in the hospital and their transition home, the likelihood of them being readmitted goes down dramatically. “Some provinces like British Columbia have realized this and so they’ve focused some resources to encourage family doctors to stay connected with their patients when they’re in the hospital under somebody else,” he said.
A lot of great Doctors understand that every patient is different.
Sure, some may ‘present the same’ you say, but genetically we’re all a little different.
It’s nice to know certain drugs will work for many individuals.
But, some won’t.
Order the common million dollar work up?
The great Doctors I’ve met understand you sometimes have to go the extra mile and ‘Do For One What You Wish You Could Do For Everyone.’
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says “A business is successful to the extent that it provides a product or service that contributes to happiness in all of its forms.”
There will always be criticism for products, services and even businesses and people we don’t understand.
Believe me, we get it. After all, we talk about the pros and cons of Concierge Medicine every single day and I’m from Canada. So yeah, we understand criticism and get it from both sides.
And criticism wears all types of hats. It runs rampant when it comes to talking about fairness especially. Particularly when you apply fairness into the healthcare ecosystem.
Have you been on some of those healthcare blogs and medical association web site comment threads lately?
Everyone has an opinion on healthcare. But not everyone lives in your shoes.
They don’t see what you see each day.
They don’t live with the regret or the pain or see the emotion which you willingly choose to wade through each day.
I like what Anderson wrote when she said Some things in life will always remain unfair and it will be completely out of our control. It’s not fair, for example, that one of my best friends lost her amazing daughter to leukemia, and it never will be. I have chosen not to shield my children from this reality. Instead, we speak of this little girl often, and of her impact on the world. We’ve also attended fundraisers for other families facing childhood cancer to show our kids that they can make a difference and help others. In the end what kids really “need” is love, and an unconditional assurance that even when life’s inequalities shake them up, they are valued and have a place in this world. Kids need a safe place to fall…we all do. Life will never be “fair” and that is a tough reality, one of the hardest that we teach our children, but there is power in letting go of what we can’t control.
If you’re reading this today as a Physician, pause for a moment of those final words and translate them into your world.
It might sound something like this … In the end what MY PATIENTS really “need” is love, and an unconditional assurance that even when life’s inequalities shake them up, they are valued and have a place in this world. MY PATIENTS need a safe place to fall…we all do. Life will never be “fair” and that is a tough reality, one of the hardest that we teach MY PATIENTS, but there is power in letting go of what we can’t control.
All we’re trying to say today is that for a few of you … we actually might want to simmer on what Stanley and Anderson are saying here.
‘You’re right. It’s not fair. Life isn’t fair. Do not try to be fair because you cannot be fair. It’s impossible. Give up on fairness and be engaged and if you do for one what you wish you could do for everyone you will be engaged and you will model something that can be replicated. If you try to be fair, if you try to treat everybody the same way … at the end of the day you won’t and besides that’s not really what we want to characterize are companies.I mean have you ever heard or read an article about a company that thrived because the company was so fair? ‘We just treated everybody the same and we made sure that everybody got exactly what they deserve.’No, that’s not a leadership principle. In fact you know that’s like trying to lead with both feet on the brakes. So ‘do for one what you wish you could do for everyone’.