We’re four days away from the new year, so by now, you’ve already read countless articles about how to prepare for the latest and greatest trends in 2018.
From marketing advice to management advice, the deluge of fear-mongering/self-promotional content from businesses in the medical industry is at its peak- and, like myself, I’m sure you’re exhausted.
This article is different.
I’ve decided to take a different approach to what I feel all medical practices and their employees should focus on in 2018. And it’s not partnering with Incredible Marketing. In fact, I won’t talk about what we can do for you at all.
Instead, I’m going to share five intangible qualities and characteristics that, when adopted, will change your practice forever.
- You won’t find these intangibles in your annual report.
- There’s no quantifiable ROI to any of them.
- And you can’t measure them on a spreadsheet.
But they will give you a leg up on your competition.
Let’s get started.
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau
As a doctor or someone who works with patients for a career, you already know that empathy fuels connection.
Empathy is feeling with people: to empathize is to connect with something inside yourself that knows that experience already, and then relate.
But empathy also fuels a successful business: the more you empathize with your patient’s journey (all of it), the better you’re able to satisfy their needs (all of them).
In other words, empathy isn’t just a way to deliver better patient care; it’s a way to build bridges between patients and revenue by fulfilling their emotional and informational needs throughout their entire journey.
In 2017, I challenge you to sow the seeds of empathy.
Go all in on empathy: Look through your patients’ eyes from the start of their journey to the end- not just during their consultation or appointment, and not just in person or on the phone.
Look through their eyes when they’re searching for information on your website; walk in their shoes the night before an operation; and feel their anxiety as they sit in front of you, vulnerable and honest.
Better yet, be your patient.
Seriously. Be an actual patient at another practice.
Observe. Feel. Fear. Criticize.
And then reinvent your patient experience around fulfilling every emotional and informational need you had along your entire journey, but that you didn’t receive.
There’s a hidden energy that lives within every successful business.
You can’t measure it.
You can’t outsource it.
But you can feel it- it’s unmistakable.
It’s called momentum.
And you either have it or you don’t.
Businesses (or people) gain momentum by building a culture that prioritizes clearly defined systems for doing everything:
- They set goals and always know where they’re going.
- They create processes and procedures to help them get there.
- They understand that if everything is a priority nothing is a priority.
- They establish roles within a team, favoring specialization over generalization.
- They develop routines.
- They crawl, walk, then run.
- They build a wave and then ride it, period.
Businesses that gain momentum not only experience greater success quicker but they do it more productively and with less cost.
Dedicate 2017 to tearing down the walls of organizational inertia and building systems that will help your practice (or your specific role within the practice) make progress toward your goals.
Because progress is the seed of momentum.
This last US presidential election made one thing clear: we don’t communicate; we discuss.
But discussion (which shares the same root with “percussion” or “concussion”) is the process of arguing ideas, of trying to win. Discussion literally means “to break things up.”
As Maria Popova says in her article, Legendary Physicist David Bohm on the Paradox of Communication, when we discuss ideas, there’s an inherent presence of analysis: the object of the game is to win or get points for yourself.
Dialogue, on the other hand, means “the meaning of the word” ( root “Logos”) with an emphasis on “through” (root “Dia”), as in to find the meaning of the words that travel through us. As physicist David Bohm says, dialogue is a process of creating something new together:
“…when the second person replies, the first person sees a difference between what he meant to say and what the other person understood. On considering this difference, he may then be able to see something new, which is relevant both to his own views and to those of the other person.”
To understand the meaning of the words- to engage in dialogue, as Brohm would say- is to listen. It requires a casting aside of prejudices and biases, a conscious effort to not defend our own ideas, and a willing suspension of our own fears of uncertainty so we can come to a new (and more profound) understanding, together:
“When we come together to talk, or otherwise to act in common, can each one of us be aware of the subtle fear and pleasure sensations that “block” his ability to listen freely? Without this awareness, the injunction to listen to the whole of what is said will have little meaning. But if each one of us can give full attention to what is actually “blocking” communication while he is also attending properly to the content of what is communicated, then we may be able to create something new between us, something of very great significance for bringing to an end the at present insoluble problems of the individual and of society.”
The truth: we can all benefit from this advice.
To listen instead of defend.
To fight for meaning, not victory.
To cast aside prejudices and biases.
To acknowledge our fear of uncertainty, then suppress it.
To use different interpretations as inspiration, not condemnation.
To engage in dialogue, not discussion.
To create something new, together.
So whether you’re talking with your patients, staff, colleagues, friends or family, make an effort to engage in dialogue, not discussion. Communicate.
Because in a dialogue, when a mistake is discovered, everyone wins.
“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden
The focus ring on a camera helps you produce a clear image of your subject.
Twist. Twist. Stop. Slight twist. Slighter twist = Focus.
The focus ring for your business helps you achieve clarity by concentrating your resources on a few critical objectives that will lead to a cascade of favorable results (and ignoring the rest).
No. No. Yes. No. No. No = Focus.
In 2017, make it a habit to say no more than you say yes.
Stop wasting time on things you’re not good at.
Stop investing in skills that aren’t required for your success.
Stop doing work that you can delegate.
Stop being all things to all people at all times.
And stop saying yes just because someone else wants you to.
Focus leads to clarity. Clarity leads to purpose. Purpose leads to achievement.
“A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.” – Victor Hugo
There’s a difference between thinking and learning. In fact, when you’re learning, you’re often not thinking at all.
You think, of course. But you don’t think about what you learned; you don’t reflect on what you learned with your own unique perspective.
But in order to create something profound, learning needs to wait and thinking needs to ensue.
You need to start thinking more about what you learned.
I know, it’s hard.
We live in an “always on” culture where information has no boundaries- we can, and do, access education from anywhere at anytime.
We obsess over the latest rants, raves, and trends within our industry- we have a fear of missing out on learning opportunities (hello, imposter’s syndrome).
And businesses have chosen to use education, not manipulation, as their primary means for earning new customers- the deluge of educational information is overwhelming.
It’s hard to stop learning. But you have to.
Sir Isaac Newton did. In the 18 months Cambridge University went on permanent hiatus due to the Bubonic Plague, Newton invented calculus, developed his theories of planetary motion and light and color, and watched an apple fall from a tree (you know how that ends).
There is no silver bullet that will magically solve your problems: Not in medicine. Not in marketing. Not in life.
So stop reading this article, and start thinking deeply about what you learned instead.