John Nosta: THINKOLOGY The Intersection of Thought, Creativity and Inspiration


Being Liked: An Essential Element to Improving Healthcare

Paging Dr. Hackenbush!

While this image might not conger thoughts of quality, high-tech medicine, it might make you smile.  And there's the secret.  Like-ability.  Today's busy and complicated world of medicine has moved away from what most industries call "customer service" and evolved into an impersonal gauntlet of technology and limited human interaction.


Paging Dr. Welby!

Remember him?  Marcus Welby, MD.  Even in those days,  conflicts between a modern perspective and "innovators" was  the basis for a very real, and hit show.  The plots often concerned a professional conflict between well-meaning physicians. Here, Dr. Welby's unorthodox way of treating patients was pitted against the more strait-laced methods of Dr. Steven Kiley (James Brolin). The catch with this particular program was that the roles were reversed in that Dr. Kiley was much younger than Dr. Welby. In the similar series Medical Center, it is the older doctor who is more orthodox and the younger who is radical. The opening credits of "Welby" for each episode reminded viewers of the generation gap between the two doctors, Welby driving his long sedan and Kiley riding a motorcycle. Welby had served in the US Navy as a doctor during the war, and was a widower. He owned a sail boat and enjoyed the ocean. (Source:  Wikipedia)

Paging Dr. House!

In our fictitious world of physicians, Doctor House very well may be the smartest in the group. But what he has in brain power is often compromised by his "customer service" or perhaps even "patient service". He's the smartest guy in the room...but does he behavior promote that best actions and responses?



The power of a positive experience

Could healthcare be vastly improved by an added focus to "patient service"? In our system today, the point of care--from the emergency room to the family practice office--is a cauldron of information and emotion that is punctuated by the speedy visit of a distracted doctor (or other healthcare provider).  The resultant dialogue is broken and  can drive poor if not horrific health outcomes.  And the problem isn't just with medicine.  Relationships with your car dealer, credit card company and supermarket are all impacted by the "two-sided engagement" that builds trust and drives action.  Yet American Express and The Four Seasons Hotel understand this and make service a central part of their offering.

Customer Service as a component of quality care

Today, tremendous brain power and lots of dollars are seeking to tweak the system.  Policies and programs are developed and implemented to shift patient compliance just a few small percentages or drive a higher level of patient recognition of diseases and symptoms.  Yet, I wonder about the power of superior engagement and the healthy nature of a simple return this relationship? The human smile can work wonders to drive activity.  And this is exactly where healthcare need to move!


  • Samantha Gluck

    Hi John,

    This article poses an interesting question: If the patient’s health and wellbeing is paramount, what’s more important? Likability? or High Intelligence & relentless pursuit of answers?

    Welby possesses both of these characteristics, putting him in the category of a role model all should strive to emulate, but will rarely actually reach the ideal portrayed by Welby. (Physicians of Welby’s rare ilk do exist, but they are unspeakably rare from my considerable yet, admittedly, less than global experience.)

    House is the smart one as you pointed out. Hackenbush has amazing likability. Who to choose? If one of my kids is really sick, or my husband or me, I want House. I don’t care if he’s an ass. I want a relentless, almost clinically obsessed, pursuit of an answer and a cure to whatever ails. Full stop.

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