A beloved character in all of American (not just baseball) history is Yogi Berra. Widely known for his witticisms, he is often quoted. He may even be misquoted, but one can never tell. One of his most popular phrases is “Baseball is 90% mental and the other ½ is physical.” More than one baseball manager has thought about correcting that statement, only to realize the wisdom of it. The result: most prefer to agree with Yogi rather than to correct him.
Now apply this bit of baseball wisdom to today’s medical practices. With only a minor modification, it fits. “The healthcare journey is 90% mental and the other ½ is medical.” No matter how gifted the physician might be, the patient’s mental approach to the healing process is irreplaceable. Granted, very little can replace a great doctor, and that doctor can be even better when the patient has a positive outlook. In many cases, that outlook can be influenced by the medical staff.
During every visit to the doctor’s office, the patient will almost always spend more time with the staff than with the doctor. Nowadays, patients’ first contact with the office is over the internet or over the phone. Upon arrival at the office, they contact the receptionist. Next, they are escorted to the exam room by another employee. In many cases, vital signs are taken by still another employee before the patient sees the doctor. When the doctor is finished, the patient will inevitably see at least one more staff member during the check-out process. Seeing only one doctor, a patient can easily see three, four, or more members of the medical staff of the practice. So a person might say, “The healthcare journey is 90% with the staff and the other ½ is with the doctor.”
Needless to say, there are many opportunities during each patient’s visit for the staff to have a very positive, or a very negative impact on the healing process. That means that the staff can have a very positive, or a very negative impact on the success of the practice.
Yogi never said you could replace some of the mental with more physical or vice-versa. Likewise, it’s very difficult for even the best doctor to compensate for a poor experience with the staff. It is also very difficult for a great staff to compensate for a doctor who has a poor bedside manner. When the entire medical team is working cohesively to ensure a great patient experience, the outcome will almost always be positive and memorable. Then another of Yogi’s witticisms applies. “Nobody goes there. It’s too crowded!” What a great problem for any business to have!