More and more it seems that primary care physicians are becoming commoditized. You know…where there is nothing to differentiate one group of physicians from another group of physicians down the street.
I really don’t understand why primary care physicians don’t make more of an effort to “stand out” from the competition in some meaningful way. Being a former hospital marketer, I am even more surprised that hospitals systems, which now employ many primary care physicians, have been so slow to recognize the benefits of differentiating their physician partners from those across town.
That’s why I was surprised with a TV ad which I saw in my local San Jose market run by John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek California. The ad is the first I have seen which uses their physicians’ patient communication skills to differentiate themselves from competitors. Given that poor communication is the number one complaint most people have about their physician, this is a great strategy.
In truth I can’t say that John Muir’s physicians are any better at communicating with patients than any other groups of physicians. I would need to see evidence beyond that captured in patient satisfaction surveys. You know…the same satisfaction survey everyone uses with the same wonderful results. What I can say is that if in fact the ad is factually correct, John Muir is on to something.
With Patient Expectations Of Their Doctor’s Communication Skills Being So Low – It Easy For Physicians With Good Communication Skills To Stand Out
Poor communications is an issue for my doctor and I. I am reluctant however to change doctors because I doubt that other physicians are any better when it comes to patient communication. But what if they were!
What if the physicians affiliated with a particular hospital system actually did communicate measurably better than their competitors? With the advent of the Patient-Centered Medical Home, there’s lots of talk about primary care physicians becoming more patient-centered. Why don’t hospital executives begin helping their physicians, both independent and employed, become more patient-centered in the way they communicate with patients through training programs? After all patient-centered communication is the gold standard for how provider should communicate with patients. Even more interesting would be those same hospitals teaching patients how to effectively engage their physicians in discussing ways they can get more involved in their own care.
Just imaging patients walking out of your physicians’ offices amazed and delighted that their physician:
- asked their opinion
- invited their questions
- was present in the moment and
- actually listened to what the patient had to say.
Effective patient centered communication is one great way for primary care physicians and their hospitals partners can to avoid being commoditized and to stand out as market leaders. Are you ready?
That’s my opinion, what’s yours?