Years ago, I read a parable about how to make a better decision written by Spencer Johnson, MD. It was about a business leader and his quest for improved decision-making skills as he trekked along a mountain trail. I loved the common-sense approach, and I have long carried in my wallet the book’s accompanying card outlining “The Map” to a better decision.
The Map suggests you first use your head by asking a practical question, such as “Am I meeting the real need, informing myself of options and thinking it through?” The second is a private question: “Does my decision show I am honest with myself, trust my intuition and deserve better?” Finally, The Map suggests after listening to yourself and others, you have the information to make and act on a better decision.
At the time, I didn’t think about the fact that the writer was a doctor because the storyline had nothing to do with healthcare. But, leading a healthcare marketing strategy firm with a mission to help inspire better health decisions, I now wonder to what extent Dr. Johnson was inspired by his experiences in healthcare. When he originally wrote the book in 1992, consumerism in healthcare was just taking shape. Did he realize people could use his map to navigate the healthcare system in their quests for personal health decisions? And, taking the concept one step further, did he foresee a way for hospital and health system leaders to use it to better address the needs of their consumers?
Whether or not Dr. Johnson recognized that secondary track 26 years ago, I cannot say – but as someone who has made it my business to understand healthcare and healthcare strategy for the same number of years, I see it clearly now.
Illuminating the path to better health decisions for consumers
As with most of us working in the healthcare industry, I am called on by friends and business colleagues facing serious health conditions to help navigate the health system. It is astounding to me there aren’t better navigation systems in place to lead patients in making better decisions about their health. Fortunately, many individual hospitals and health systems have nurse navigators and processes to help manage care within their own continuum to reduce costs, improve quality and enhance the patient experience. One may ask, is the goal to keep people within their own systems, or is the goal to drive better health for each patient, even if they may achieve better outcomes elsewhere? Forward-thinking health system leaders are likely re-imagining a patient-centric, health system-agnostic navigation process to objectively guide patients as they confront challenging health conditions. And if not, perhaps Dr. Johnson’s Map to a Better Decision can offer insights as we strive for better health.Opportunity Ahead – Re-Imagining Your Health System’s Approach to Patient Navigation: Click To Tweet
At Dobies Health Marketing, we’ve been sharing insight with our hospital and health system clients about how consumer knowledge shifts and other market forces are driving substantial change in healthcare delivery. Such change requires greater collaboration among all parties tasked with providing care and access to care (which isn’t always medical). At the core of this shift is the need to keep people healthy throughout their lives, not simply treat them when they are sick – a model we call lifecare. Read more on the lifecare model in this white paper we co-authored with HealthScape Advisors, as well as continuing discussions on our blog.
Why is the concept of lifecare relevant? Because what you will see is a shift in mental framework, from traditional pipeline strategy to the more innovative platform strategy. Platform strategy provokes a call for all organizations within a community’s comprehensive care continuum to create an ecosystem where better health is possible. Lifecare is a framework for creating a cohesive network that is prepared to connect each consumer to the products, services, education and additional support needed for optimal individual health. U.S. hospitals and health systems can and should take a more active role in facilitating optimal outcomes across a more unified and connected system. And those who embrace this notion now (e.g., with re-imagined patient navigation) have the greatest opportunity to become innovative leaders who are authentically consumer-centric, catalyzing a movement toward a more meaningful impact on individual and population health.
About the Author
Carol Dobies is the CEO and Founder of Dobies Health Marketing, where she has been bringing healthcare brands to life for 35+ years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.