It became clear, even as a young neurologist in 2001 that I wasn’t gonna be able to “fix” anyone coming in for an acute stroke on a frequent enough basis… I looked forward to administering the then-recently-approved clot-busting TPA as much as feasible, however came to realize the most effective approaches to help patients were to help them prevent strokes before they occurred (again).

Invariably, helping patients prevent strokes and the associated disability translates to inviting them to talk about aspects of their lifestyles which increase the likelihood of stroke occurring. 

At that time, patients expressed very little awareness of relationships between their health conditions and their lifestyles; and if you mentioned it, many would argue or respond with an ambivalence. I remember thinking to myself and aloud “I wish patients would be more involved and more engaged in their health & healthcare.” For it was typical for patients to refer to Dr. X for “putting me on medicine Y.” This always made me cringe… 

But that was then, and this is now - haven’t things changed?? What happened??

Apple Happened - Let’s face it; the Apple Stores are cooler than hospitals and even the representatives, regardless of age, are cooler than most hospital personnel. But furthermore, when you receive undesirable information from Apple, you accept it and move on, because they have that way about themselves… And imagine that people stand in lines indefinitely for new phones every year, starting in October, just to have the latest! Apple’s performance has made it difficult for the rest of us, who are in the business of serving data, products, and services to the public, because they do it so well. 

Google Happened - access to information has never been greater than it is today! Wanna learn how to make watermelon mint salad? Interested to know where a banking commercial was filmed, because you don’t recognize the terrain? Do you need to know who invented bossa nova, because you’re just curious? All you have to do is Google it! Consumers have rapidly become impatient with healthcare providers and systems that can’t seem to deliver in one way or another information as pertains to their pursuit of improved health. We have admittedly struggled to keep up with these evolved expectations…

Copays & Deductibles Happened - increasingly, over the past 20 years, healthcare consumers have been forced to pay larger amounts of money out of their pockets for the healthcare services they receive. This has led patients to assessing with greater scrutiny what they are receiving for what they are paying - and they aren’t liking it. 

These changes have created an uncomfortable moment for everyone involved; consumers, physicians, nurses, & managers, however I suggest things are far better than they were 20 years ago - finally people are engaged!!! 

I suggest this is an exciting moment for healthcare, but in order to capitalize on it, we will have to do what so many otter industries have, to improve the experience consumers have when they present. We must study the high performers: Apple, Chik-fil-A, Disney and other places people prefer to hang out with full confidence they’ll receive happiness & what they went in for with “pleasure.”

I hope you’ll keep current, as we continue to have this very important conversation. It has become my contention, that no industry meets the public on matters more intimate or meaningful; we should therefore be leading the way, rather than playing catch-up. 

As we move forward, we’ll talk more about patients’ intrinsic desires and how to appeal to them, that most everyone feels appreciated and respected for their humanity. Cheers!