Medical leadership, like any leadership position, requires that you remain well informed. I simply call it being “aware.”
The picture below shows two doctors on patient rounds together. You need to do your own business “rounds” on a regular basis. You may think this is obvious, but then why are so many corporate leaders out of touch or missing the mark with their marketing or products/services? Stay with me, and I’ll give you the specific action steps that will help shape your business in a tangible way.
To achieve awareness in your business you must go out into your clinic, hospital or research laboratory or get on the phone to find out what your opportunities and your issues are.
If you run a practice with numerous doctors, are you aware of the satisfaction level of each doctor’s patients? Is that level declining for some of your staff and rising for others? If you run a home care agency or an assisted living facility, is the number of complaints from your patients increasing?
If you run a translational research institution, private or public, are you aware of what patients are saying about the forms of treatment under investigation? What side effects are being talked about on social media?
If you run a drug company, are you aware of what patients are saying about high priced drugs on various websites? Patient acceptance or lack thereof, whether that is based on price or other considerations, can kill a treatment modality early on in its gestation or disrupt your relations with shareholders later as prices come under government pressure.
For all medical leaders, keeping in touch with your end clients’ needs and frustrations, whether they are patients or otherwise, will guide both your product development and your marketing.
If you don’t talk to several patients a week, you are not in touch with your end customers. Ask them what they like about your services and what they don’t like. Even the CEO of a diagnostic company might occasionally speak to a concerned patient to clearly convey the impression that his/her company does in fact care that their diagnosis is correct, as well as use the feedback to correct the failed process involved. It’s a great way to head off a potential lawsuit. Patients who are treated with honesty and respect may not file suit.
I saw the value of staying in touch with customers and meeting their needs when I was part of the management team at UroCor, and a patient occasionally doubted our diagnosis, because their local pathologist was not as experienced with diagnosing prostate cancer and happened to call a prostate biopsy “atypical” rather than “adenocarcinoma.” The outside pathologist was proven wrong, but communicating with the patient in a supportive way helped to smooth things with the patient, prior to full resolution via a third opinion.
Even if your business is more remote from the patient, such as in a medical supply business, you still need to be talking to several of your end clients per week, who might be pathologists, nurses, or administrators for example, or you’ll eventually be out of touch.
As the medical team leader or CEO, you may not do ALL the communication certainly, but if you do NONE of it, you are not going to be connected intuitively to either your product development or your marketing.
Stay in touch with your “end clients.” Your bottom line will look better and better over time, and those you are leading will thank you for remaining “aware.” And if you have a board to report too, they’ll appreciate your awareness-driven insights that successfully shape your product development and marketing.
Action Steps (without these, the above is worth next to nothing; practicing this consistently in your business will add multiple points to your emotional IQ):
1. Speak to two patients or end clients (or more) within the next week or so.
2. Put it on your schedule. I and others like to point out that when we don’t schedule a task, we simply don’t get it done very often.
3. Set a mental or written INTENTION for each conversation BEFORE you have it. When you set an intention, you will often meet that intention. If you simply say “I’m going to talk to some end clients,” your results won’t be as defined and helpful as they could be.
4. Write down/type out the questions that you’ve wanted to know the answers to for a long time before making the calls or visits. Ask each end client what worked well for them in regard to your services and what suggestions they might have for improvement.
5. Record the insights you have after each conversation.
6. Draft a bullet point summary of your results at the end and decide whether your survey has uncovered actionable ideas.
7. If the answer to 6 is “Yes,” convey your ideas to relevant team members and schedule follow-up meetings as needed to assess potential marketing and/or product development changes.
Finally, consider enrolling in my program to further improve the level of your awareness among other vitally important qualities. Every serious leader has a coach, including me! Read more here:
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Photo with thanks from: Seattle Municipal Archives
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