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The Critical Question to Position Yourself for Success


How will you position yourself for success in this rapidly changing healthcare environment? The question that will really determine the trajectory of your practice growth may have fallen below your radar.

How will you position yourself for success in this rapidly changing healthcare environment?

You may be asking questions about EMR’s and ICD-10 and meaningful use.

The critical question that will determine the trajectory of your practice growth may have fallen below your radar.

The doctor-patient relationship is changing.

A powerful insidious force is transforming the way you practice medicine. It’s not the ACA; it's Google.

The very foundation of our healthcare system—the doctor-patient relationship—is shifting in the post-Google era.

Historically, physicians served as the gatekeepers through which patients gained access to medical information, diagnostic tests and therapeutic interventions. Physicians directed referrals.

In the language of the real estate industry, we’re in transition from a “seller’s market” to a “buyer’s market.”

Increasingly, patients drive healthcare choices. They decide whom they will see and when. They have much more financial skin in the game.

Physicians and patients see things differently.

We physicians have clarity about the medical outcomes we want our patients to enjoy and the best way to get there. We know the questions patients should be asking and actions they should be taking.

The problem is that your patient may have a completely different agenda than you do. They are driven by personal outcomes that are important to them. They may enter the exam room with different medical beliefs, expectations and priorities than you hold.

Your skill at bridging these differences impacts patient compliance, medical outcomes and the rate of your practice growth.

How do patients make choices?

Think about how you translate your vacation plans into a reality. You decide on a destination. You book your plane tickets after considering departure and arrival times, costs and your experience with airlines. A mileage loyalty program maybe influence your choices.

You may have checked the hotels’ reviews before you booked your rooms. You may ask friends where to eat or what sights to catch.

Increasingly, this is exactly how patients make their healthcare choices. They want to know about other patients’ experience with you. They don’t want to travel long local distances to get their care. Out-of-pocket expenses influence their choices, and increasing numbers of Americans seek their care abroad.

What is the critical question you need to ask?

Your single most important question is this: “What do patients really want?”

Once you understand that factors that drive patient’s choices, you will increase compliance, get better medical outcomes and attract more patient referrals.

If you want to thrive in this post-Google era, see the world through your patient’s eyes. Don’t make assumptions about your patient’s experience with your organization. Ask. Measure. Challenge yourself to get just a little bit better every day and every week.

The organizations that do this will position themselves for success.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice