I'm Praveen Suthrum. After 13 years of building and running NextServices, a healthcare technology/management company, the challenges and opportunities in the industry leap out at me. I also get early access to industry trends and changes.

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How to solve the patient volume conundrum

How to solve the patient volume conundrum

Access to doctors is a challenge everywhere.

But when you talk to doctors you realize that they tend to worry about patient volume. They want access to patients.

In healthcare, supply and demand play an odd game with each other. What we need is also what needs us. A conundrum.

This goes beyond doctors. It's the whole industry.

Patients need healthcare. Healthcare needs patients. But they struggle to meet each other midway.

Marketer Jay Abraham often talks about the Strategy of Preeminence. It might as well apply to doctors and healthcare in dealing with patients.

It's what makes people enthusiastic to do business with you versus your competition. It propels you to have deeper insight into what people want. It assures a customer pipeline for life.

In healthcare, it could also help providers win the trust of patients.

Abraham's principle is simple. It's changing the focus from "me" to "you."

Whether you are a hospital with an army of doctors or a solo practice, this shift in focus helps you standout. As a "preeminent" choice for a patient.

Consider the following questions.

When a patient is in front of us...

  • Do we see it as a chance to win longterm trust? Or, do we want to maximize the opportunity from this one interaction?
  • Do we wish to provide information, results from lab tests and finish our responsibility? Or, do we want to guide the patient as if she were a close friend?
  • Do we ignore the times when a patient is making wrong medical/financial choices? Or, do we protect them from those mistakes?
  • Are we too weighed down by our business targets (for e.g. number of MRI scans or unfilled cath tables)? Or, do we shift the focus on the patient and ask what's the most value we can give her?

Yes, I get it. Medicine has changed.

Managed care changed healthcare. Patients now follow their insurance plans and not their family doctors.

Patients of today feel entitled to the care they receive. They demand better customer service - beyond care and healing. Much like in a retail setting.

In the name of pampering patients, a few hospitals have even transformed themselves into malls with spas and multiplexes.

We add more and more trappings to attract patients. A better scanner. A robotic something. Glossier brochures.

But here's what we are missing.

When you remove the frills of healthcare, we arrive at only one thing: medical care.

For care to result in healing, we need patients and doctors trusting each other.

Fundamental to trust is the ability to empathize. To change the focus from "me" to "you."

Will we let a friend or family member make a bad medical choice? Then why don't we apply the same thinking for patients?

The business of medicine isn't a one time transaction. Most successful doctors know that very well. 

Patients have friends and family. When you treat them right, they talk about it.

It's when effortless patient flow happens.

We forget that patients go through life changes all the time. They get married. They have a kid. They have an aging parent. A cousin falls ill. They break a bone. They get fat. They get thin. They get a chronic disease.

You get the idea.

Healthcare is an ongoing partnership. Not a one-time transaction, which we've been making it into.

Think of patients as friends who are here because they trust you. You are here to help them through their medical ups and downs. Improve their quality of life. Build a connection for a lifetime.

Allow this purpose to come through during a patient interaction. A consultation. When the front desk answers the phone. When a patient calls for a prescription refill or has a billing question. When they wait to see the doctor. When they are confused about what to do with their condition.

It's then that patient volume will stop being a conundrum. When your purpose reflects beyond mere words.

It's a richer way of pursuing a healthcare calling.

Related articles

  1. With patients, trust comes before engagement: Part 1 and Part 2
  2. 5 easy ways to increase patient volume significantly

 

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