Last night I had the privilege of meeting up with a friend and catching up on work, life, and sharing stories. We had some great dialogue and I always have a blast. As I often do, I reflect back on conversations and think about the take aways or lessons learned.
What I took away from this conversation is that we like to place people in groups or categories. As small children we learn how to group things by colors, numbers, types of things.
As we continue to grow and develop we become more aware of our surroundings and we begin to group people by girls and boys, the jocks and geeks, academics and truants, friends and frenemies.
As we continue to mature and develop we begin to grow those categories and groupings by race, creed, sexual orientation, coworkers, friends, family.
Healthcare is much of the same. We delineate a difference between breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer. You get the picture, it goes on and on.
In addition, there is the grouping of physicians and patients. Or in a more simplistic state, the ones that have something “broken” internally and those that are trained to “fix” those internal problems.
However, this is all about to change for healthcare. It has slowly been creeping in day by day for the past 10 years, but we are at a tipping point. One day we are all going to wake up and realize that the model of “break” and “fix” or patients and physicians is no longer defined by the same rules, lines, and people that traditionally made up those categories.
Patients are becoming more attuned with being consumers. The challenge for healthcare and the providers of healthcare is going to be how do they try to redefine those traditional groups and categories.
As consumers move between various groups and categories as they age over time, how and when do you transition consumers from one group to another? How do you meet their needs, provide the services, and care for them when maybe they cross more than one category? As a consumer, maybe you do not want to identify with a specific group and want to transition to another group, how do you do that?
How do we leverage being a consumer of wellness, a consumer with a broken arm, that then is diagnosed with cancer, which is then found to be specific to lung? Which category or group does that consumer belong to, and which one do they identify and need the most? What if they need all of the above and more, how does healthcare provide those services to meet the consumers needs?
In my simplistic mind, it’s on an individual basis. One on one. Face to face.
Each of us has a story. Those stories are specific and unique to each of us as individuals.
All providers of healthcare need to establish a safe environment of trust and privacy that will allow consumers to be completely open and honest in those face to face meetings.
Establishing that “circle of trust” allows us as consumers to be unfiltered and share with you our story, our expectations, and what we need. You need to be willing to listen. To be personal. To be honest. Not to judge.
Do not be too quick to place your consumers into a group or category until you completely understand their story. Usually consumers have the answers, healthcare needs to provide the environment to allow their stories to be told.
Remember healthcare providers, we will be quick to place you into a group or category as well. This is the connection economy.
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek
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