Competing The Business of Healthcare

I’d Rather Go Somewhere Else

March 28, 2012

Over lunch one day, my son told me that he had recently bought a Subway sandwich from the location on his college campus at U.C. San Diego. He said that when he asked for olives, the guy behind the counter placed three small olive slices across the foot-long sandwich. When my son asked for additional olives, he said the guy put two more slices on it.

Had he like the product and the service, my son probably wouldn’t have said a thing about it to me or to anyone else. But when he received poor service, a crummy sandwich and no value for the money, he told everyone. And, importantly, he said that if he were hungry and had any choice other than a Subway store, he’d go somewhere else, even though he knows that each store is independently owned.

Of course, this is hardly a new observation – I’m not simply speaking about Subway sandwiches. After all, there are old expressions like “one bad apple spoils the bunch.”

But have you considered that the same effect applies to statements made, and actions taken, by members of your group? That one snide comment to a nurse, one rude remark to a patient, one event of tardiness, can become both a stain on your entire group and a broad brush with which to paint it?

There are multiple lessons for medical groups contained within the Subway story:

Certainly, you need to hire for competence. But you also need to hire for personality and the understanding that no matter what the medical specialty, it is a service business.

There is a need to manage personnel to meet high customer expectations, and that, of course, means that your group must have leadership and that leaders must be permitted the time,and incentivized, to actually manage.

And, your group’s owner and employee/subcontractor physicians must clearly understand the group’s code of conduct and customer service expectations, they must be trained to meet or exceed those standards, and they must be incentivized for good performance.

Of course, you do have a choice: you don’t have to take any of these actions. But then, your “customers” can eat somewhere else.

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