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Doctor Marketing Insights from the Four Seasons Hotel and a Master Surgeon

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

caring handsHere are two distinctly different but well-told stories that are worth sharing. The two storytellers—a photographer based in the Netherlands and an orthopedic surgeon in New York—probably don’t know each other.

One story is about social media at work in the hospitality industry. The other is about patient-physician communications. On the surface these topics are unrelated, but both stories offer lessons for healthcare and doctor marketing, engagement and the patient experience. Read on and let us know what you see in these tales.

People talk to people, not brands.

Photographer Thomas Marzano—a frequent traveler—tells about a trip to Silicon Valley and his brief stay at the Palo Alto Four Seasons Hotel. In this post titled How the Four Seasons Hotel Just Gets #SocialMedia, he recounts how the Four Seasons used Twitter, handwritten personal notes, small gifts and special extra efforts to engage (and amaze) this guest.

Marzano writes about his initial impression: “Before arriving at the Four Seasons I posted a tweet where I mentioned @FSPaloAlto and expressed how much I was looking forward to relaxing at their spa after the long journey. To my big surprise [they replied] fairly quickly asking me if they should make reservations! I was impressed!” (The full story includes more examples like this one.)

“People talk to people, not to brands,” Marzano concludes. “Four Seasons clearly understands how important personal experiences are and have jumped on the social media bandwagon to increase their level of service. [They] not only give people like me a great experience, they have turned me into a brand advocate."

The lesson for doctor marketing in this hospitality story is that engagement and exceptional personal experience is about a people-to-people connection.

Treat Patients as People… Not Diseases

Now zoom across to the East Coast and up towards the Hudson Valley a bit to Hawthorne, New York and vicinity. Compare and contrast the Marzano story with the words of Howard J. Luks, MD. He describes himself as “navigating the intersection of health care and social media.” Dr. Luks is an orthopedic surgeon and Chief of Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy at University Orthopedics and Westchester Medical Center.

His website presents information about Social Media, Healthcare 2.0, and Orthopedic conditions. We find him to be a thought leader at this intersection. We—along with many professional peers—often read his intelligent and probing posts and tweets.

Case in point, his recent post, Treat Patients as People…Not Diseases, where he tells us, “We as physicians are commonly trained to treat disease, not patients. If 'X' is present, administer 'y' and if  'A' is broken, we must fix it. Orthopedic surgeons in particular are frequently trained to treat MRI findings and not necessarily how to incorporate patient values, or the tailor a treatment plan based on how a disease affects a patient’s quality of life.”

You will want to read more details in the post, but in part, Dr. Luks writes, “A master surgeon incorporates patient values, and can identify the at-risk patient and institute measures to effectively manage and treat those patients both pre-and post-operatively and perhaps more importantly they can identify the at-risk patient who should not be indicated for surgery.

“We need to treat our patients as people and not as disease states.  We need to treat patients and not MRI findings. It is no longer advisable, nor perhaps acceptable, to look at a patient as possessing a mechanical issue and not consider the impact of whatever intervention we recommend on their lifestyle and quality of life.”

The primary and intended message of each story is different. But an underlying theme—achieving a positive patient/customer experience—is about connecting with people as people. In social media, hospitality and/or orthopedics, success is in reaching what’s important to the person (guest or patient) as an individual.

We’re here to help. See our website for more about patient experience and customer satisfaction in doctor marketing.

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