Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

We Are NOT All Patients

Who wants to be a patient?

Do you? Is that something to which you aspire?

How many times do you wake up and say “You know, I hope I become a patient today. The wait is killing me.”?

We’re just people. This is life, and life bring problems which – one way or another – become our problems.

Fortunately, we have people curious and passionate and smart enough to take stabs at solving those problems. They are given names, like doctor, nurse, biologist, advocate.

None of us wants to be a patient.

This language, this way of speaking, is a consequence of the industrial age – the time when things needed to be neatly categorized and packaged. The world of the neatly-packaged, squarely-folded, factory-made cracker with no salt is coming to its end.

Healthcare marketers would be wise to avoid questions like “What do patients want?”.

Who knows what they want? They could want anything.

I don’t know what they want. I don’t even know what I want as a patient because I don’t know what condition I might have at any given moment. My frame of mind and focus on my needs/wants depends on what happens.

I do know that we want empathy.

I do know that we want competence.

I do know that we want ethical conduct.

Fun too, if possible.

Healthcare marketers need to think in terms of problems and solutions. Forget “patient”. Ditch the term from your thinking – it’s practically meaningless, and will only lead to Powerpoint water-boarding in tortuous proposal meetings.

Feel free to use the term, just don’t let it get in the way of knowing the people behind the word.

Knowing demographics and doing bread-and-butter market research are well-advised activities.

Just keep the language reality-appropriate. (There’s a new phrase for you: reality-appropriate.)

A patient is someone who waits for nothing to happen.

You do know that’s why “patients” are called “patients”, right?

We are not all patients.

We are all people.

Communicate with people, not patients.

What are you waiting for?

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter

484-362-0451

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  • Phil, I totally agree with you on our need to to aware of the language we use to define our work and who we work with (other terms that irritate me are “compliance,” “comorbid,” and “termination”). As a psychologist I refer to all of the people I have to privilege to help as “clients.” They are coming to me to learn and partake in process which I have more expertise than them. They are customers of my service. They know their personal experience better than I, they know what feels right to them in our work together.They are experts of themselves. Of course this is different than practicing physical medicine, but my guess is if we see our clients as people who are just like us with different skill sets, we’d be more effective, connected, and empathic to their needs, wants and healing process.

  • Anonymous

    I guess we are not all patients all of the time….but it’s likely that we will be a patient some of the time. And I don’t want anyone guessing what I want beyond what you say. Even when a patient we are also wifes and mothers and sisters and friends, so the identity is not singular.

    I’m not sure what has provoked your post but I wrote about this issue myself a year or so ago. I got some great comments so it is worth checking out.
    http://wishfulthinkinginmedicaleducation.blogspot.com/2009/10/why-i-think-i-am-patient-and-not.html#comments

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