Changing Market Strategy

Mastery and Your Medical Group

May 27, 2013

I’m not really one for documentaries, but I recently watched, for the second time, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Facially about an octogenarian’s lifelong quest to serve the best sushi possible, its true lesson is the role of mastery, the continuous path of excellence in an endeavor.

Physicians, no, all professionals, should be on a similar route to continuous improvement.

But for medical group leaders, the real question in both hiring and retaining physicians is what is within the scope of mastery.

Clearly, mastery in patient care, while absolutely required, is no longer sufficient. Physicians seeking only medical mastery will not advance your group’s interests. The scope of the quest must be broader.

Think of an airline flight from Los Angeles to Chicago. The mastery of the pilots, who even after flying for decades are still involved in training and improvement, got you to the destination safely and on time. Yet often the overall experience falls short, from the hassles of boarding to delayed or lost luggage.

Mastery for medical groups, like for airlines or my own services, must broaden to cover the entire customer experience.

The process for your group starts with hiring the right people, people who are on this quest. Then, your employment agreements or independent contractor agreements and the group’s compensation plan and rules and regulations must all support and incentivize this broader notion of mastery. And, you must continue to train and reinforce the group’s expectations.

Years ago, many, many years ago, I had surgery on my wrist. Almost miraculously, from a lay perspective, I was “cured.” Yet to this day, I vividly recall the hand surgeon’s complete lack of personality and the anesthesiologist screaming at his divorce lawyer over the phone in both pre-op and post-op. True masters of their craft? Each would say “yes” and so too might their certifying Boards. But would I ever recommend them? Hardly.

In today’s market, as medicine becomes more commoditized, as referral and exclusive contract relationships are destabilized, overall mastery is more important than ever in distinguishing what your group provides, in creating an Experience Monopoly™ — an experience for your patients, referral sources and facilities that they cannot get from anyone else.

People fly from around the world to have dinner at Jiro’s, paying around $300 for 15 or so pieces of sushi. His fish aren’t swimming in the sea of “good enough,” and neither should yours.

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