I had the great fortune of hearing Fred Lee, author of If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 ½ Things You Would Do Differently, speak during the Executive Forum at Centricity™ LIVE earlier this week. Fred has had the incredibly unique career experience of working as both a hospital senior executive as well as a Disney “cast member.” Needless to say, he has a compelling vision for how healthcare should be delivered.
I particularly loved Fred’s poignant vignettes as he discussed the principle that “work is theater and every business a stage” attributed to the business journalists Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. Every one of us, no matter how stoic our appearance may be, can relate to the emotional aspects of being stuck in the arm with a needle by a nurse or phlebotomist during a blood test. And, all of us who work in the healthcare industry can do better by just keeping the simple “every business a stage” axiom front and center in our minds when we are at work. Whether we are talking about the patients that receive medical care at our facilities or the providers that use our technologies, the trust and loyalty we engender is driven by the EXPERIENCE we provide them.
Of course, results matter. We have become conditioned to repeatedly cite evidence and data to justify the use or purchase of a solution. But it’s also well-documented that human beings make decisions (especially purchase decisions) based on both rational and emotional factors. In fact the emotional factors often dominate. We all choose products, solutions, and service providers in no small part by “how we feel” about them. If we have positive experiences (comfort, reassurance, empathy, satisfaction, etc.) in their presence, we are more likely to stay loyal to them. Healthcare is no different. In fact, given the stakes, it’s likely driven more by emotions than most other purchases. For example, multiple studies have confirmed that the intangible “trust in the company” is a top factor in healthcare purchases.
I have witnessed the power of this emotional connection numerous times in my career. Recently I was in Tokyo, Japan visiting a hospital to see a demonstration of a laboratory automation system. Our host, a manager in the blood collection center, did not speak English but as she led us around the center, stopping at various locations to explain what was happening, I could see the pride and excitement on her face as she spoke about the system. Our translator confirmed how the adoption of the automation equipment created so many positive feelings for the nurses and technicians in the lab, which they believed translated to a calm and relaxed environment for their visiting patients. I left the hospital convinced that the hospital and its vendors had definitely succeeded in creating a special experience in that lab, one that would be difficult to replace if someone tried to imitate it. And I also realized that despite differences in the practice of medicine around the world, clearly the emotional desire for a positive experience in healthcare crosses cultural boundaries.