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Are you catering to those who need you?

40 years ago people older than 65 years of age were a minority in the population. In the very near future they will be a significant minority and for some service providers they will be the majority. Healthcare is a good example. However the population may be ageing but it is also changing.

This aging population has many options from which to choose and they are looking for more than just a particular retailer, restaurant, product or service. They want their purchase to count: to satisfy mental, emotional and even spiritual needs as well. Older consumers: Redefining Health and Wellness as they age.

How has this been factored into your plans for how you will respond?

Picture by Nicolas Alejandro

Trust me

Is there anything about how you appear today that might reduce your credibility with your client, customer or patient? Does anything about you diminish the impression you’d like to create?

A majority of participants reported that wearing an easy to read name tag (77%), neat grooming (65%), and professional dress (59%) were important when first meeting a family member’s ICU physician, while a minority felt that physician sex (3%), race (3%), age (10%), absence of visible tattoos (30%) and piercings (39%), or wearing a white coat (32%) were important.

Third, we affirmed that regardless of dress, professionalism, neat grooming, and a clear name tag are perceived as a requisite by patient families. These results suggest that while families may not express preferences for how physicians dress, there may be subconscious associations with well-recognized physician uniforms including white coats and scrubs. Given the importance of effective communication in the ICU, physicians may want to consider that their attire could influence family rapport, trust, and confidence. Selena Au

Picture by Rodrigo Santos

Show and tell

Nothing is as compelling as seeing a vision of  yourself in the future. Increasingly healthcare professionals have the scope to offer people a vision of the future. It’s possible to display projected changes on avatars, websites or infographics. How might you show people what might happen in the foreseeable future?

Recent literature shows that new technologies can be used to promote patient engagement. The present contribution focuses on Virtual Worlds (VWs), namely virtual environments that multiple users can experience together thanks to the use of avatars. Indeed, VWs offer interesting opportunities for patient engagement interventions on two levels. On the individual level, customized avatars are known to have relationships with users’ inner experience and Self-conception, so that they may constitute a peculiar additional tool for psychological assessment. Moreover, they are able to promote healthy behaviors thanks to a strong vicarious reinforcement (Proteus effect). On the collective level, VWs constitute an ideal platform to support the emergence of collective flow states (Networked Flow) which are related to the patients’ creative activity and well-being. Healthy Avatars, Healthy People: Care Engagement Through the Shared Experience of Virtual Worlds

Picture by Trina Alexander

Do your words strike a discordant chord?

Most upper respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses. However saying that to a parent with a sick child doesn’t always help:

Parent 2: They think they make you feel better saying it’s a virus…but they make you feel worse

Parent 7: When they say it’s a virus, I mean what kind of virus? Just where does it come from? Parent 1: You’re none the wiser how they got it, what you can do, how long it will go on…

Parent 5: You feel you’re no further forward…you just have to accept it if they don’t explain further, I would like to know…

Parent 2: It’s an unknown thing to a doctor, they can’t pinpoint it, they don’t know really…

Parent 1: I feel a bit annoyed really because you think they’ve studied for years to learn that and I haven’t studied at all, you feel dissatisfied as if you wanted to hear something more…you just wish that everything was clean cut

Parent 4: At least if you really knew what it was then it’s easier to cope with (Group 3) Joe Kai BMJ 1996

What do you say in these circumstances?

Picture by Massimo Variolo

Do you miss opportunities to forge a connection?

There are very few services in which the customer or client has physical contact with the service provider. Hairdressers and masseuse are the exception. These ‘therapists’ often relate hearing things that are seldom confided in others:

A questionnaire, specially designed to measure the mood change was filled in by 359 women at their arrival in different hair‐salons and after having received various hair care services. The results show that hair treatments increase all the positive dimensions of mood and decrease all the negative ones. Picot -Lemasson et al

Patients expect that some form of bedside evaluation will take place when they visit a physician. When physicians complete this evaluation in an expert manner, it can have a salutary effect. If done poorly or not at all, in contrast, it can undermine the physician–patient relationship. Studies suggest that the context, locale, and quality of the bedside evaluation are associated with neurobiological changes in the patient. Recognizing the importance of the bedside evaluation as a healing ritual and a powerful diagnostic tool when paired with judicious use of technology could be a stimulus for the recovery of an ebbing skill set among physicians. Verghese et al

If you are a healthcare professional and there are opportunities to forge a connection with your patient do you leverage that capacity? Does every person who sees you have some sort of examination? Why or why not?

Picture by Army Medicine

Does your performance at work depend on coffee?

Does the time of day determine how you respond at work? Are you tired by mid afternoon? Are you slow to get going in the morning? How does that impact on the decisions you make at that time?

Decision fatigue is the concept that as we make more decisions during the day, they become less and less good quality… I know that I would much rather be one of my first five patient contacts of the day than my last five. Rachel Ali

Remedies for decision fatigue might include time-dependent decision support, modified schedules, shorter sessions, mandatory breaks, or snacks. Further studies could clarify the sources of the problem and test corresponding solutions. Linder et al

Does this resonate with you? What are you doing about it?

Picture by Albert Drobin

Do you bring more than your body to work?

Things happen at home. They happen now and they happened in the past. A child gets sick, a parent dies, a partner leaves you, a bill is overdue, a neighbour causes hassle. You end up in hospital, you get a parking ticket, you win a prize, you get picked for a team, your application gets rejected . Good things, bad things or just ‘things’. Be honest- how much of this plays on your mind as you serve your next customer, client or patient? How do you handle that? Do you take the backpack off before you get to the office, clinic or shop?

Picture by Neil Moralee

What small thing could add value?

I didn’t think about it at the time. He left my consulting room with a letter to a specialist. I advised him to le me know if the appointment he is offered doesn’t suit and that I would find another specialist who might be able to see him sooner. He had returned to the waiting room because he’d forgotten he was overseas the following week and the appointment he was able to get wasn’t going to work out. It would have been a matter of minutes to change the name of the specialist on the letter and get him on his way. An hour later someone in reception told me he was waiting for the change of name on his letter, I hadn’t been alerted. He had wasted an hour, patiently sitting, assuming I was too busy to deal with the matter and the shine was coming off his experience at the clinic. There was no major policy change required just a bit of foresight and team work to make sure that people aren’t unnecessarily inconvenienced by a system that potentially serves them very well.

Picture by Daniel Pink

Who leads the way down the corridor?

It may seem a tiny detail but as you walk your client, customer or patient through your clinic, shop or premises who walks ahead? Specifically when you get to where you both need to be who takes the first step into the room? Does it matter? Have you tried to do it differently? What does your guest think? How do you know? Could it be part of the ritual of welcoming someone to your office? Here’s a perspective from Workopolis:

Hold the door. When you go through a door, always look behind you and see if anyone else is coming. If someone is, hold the door open for them for Pete’s sake. The same goes for when you are getting into the elevator and you see someone coming. Hold the elevator. It’s what separates us from the animals.

Picture by Carol Van Canon

Steep hill but nice view

On this beautiful earth it is not long before you have to climb a hill to enjoy the view. Where in your job is extra effort required to get to the end of the day? What makes it harder? Could it be the voice in your head telling you that this particular ‘hill’ was specifically designed to make life harder for you? Is it because you were not anticipating any ‘hills’. Are you on the wrong road? Do you need to get fitter? Is hill climbing not for you? Could it be that the view is not worth the effort?

Here’s a perspective from Jonathan Mead

Picture by  Tejvan Pettinger