The Power of Story: The Olympics and Your Blog

Hook your readers by telling as story just as ABC has with "up close and persona."The best part about the Olympics is the stories.  I love the personal stories of the athletes.  It captures my attention and gives me more reason to watch the actual competition.

The athletic feats are indeed spectacular, but having never been (nor close) to becoming an Olympian, I can only marvel at the athleticism, precision and technique…but I can’t really relate to the athletic side of these superstars having never been one myself.

The stories, however, are different.  They do make these superhumans more real and more tangible.

The stories are compelling, the sports are entertaining.

“Up Close and Personal”

ABC, from the genius of Roone Arledge, created the “Up Close and Personal” segments in the 1970’s.  These segments quickly became popular as we learned the human side of the Olympic athletes.  We learned about the personal journey, their trials and tribulations, the sacrifice…we learned that they, too, are just people.

The series is credited for turning the Olympics into Prime Time “must see” TV.  While not called “Up Close and Personal” on rival networks, the personalization of the athletes persists to these summer games.

Telling the personal stories of the athletes compels us to watch and learn more.  It gives us relevance as to who these athletes are as people and makes the outcome of the games more relevant as we are now cheering for individuals having how learned their “story.”

We want them to win.

Importance of  A Story

A story starts a relationship.  We learn about each other and how we compare human to human.  We learn more about how we are similar than how we are different.

Stories are much easier to be repeated.  Retelling including personal facts is more compelling than repeating the athletic achievments or professional accomplishments (in the case of a doctor) because, again, we can’t relate to being an Olympic athlete nor can patients relate to the achievements of a doctor.

Writing for Your Blog

Tell your story somewhere on your website.  The best place is to create an “About Me” page listing your credentials as a person…not your achievments as a doctor.

The more transparent your writing, the more compelling the story, that is, the more you reveal of yourself, the more interesting the story.

Suggestions include your hobbies, your goal with your medical practice, the type of medicine you practice, what makes you a great doctor, what makes you a great person, etc.

For the next two weeks, as you watch teh games on NBC, look for the stories.  Realize the powerful draw for  you personally…then emulate on your website.

It’s a powerful tool.  Showing that you are a person first and a doctor second.  Reach out to your patients as a person…


The “Feel” of Your Office: Replicate it on Your Website

How does your medical practice feel?  The way a prospective client reacts to this question, more often than not, is reflective of the marketing practices/business models they employ.  A traditional model is focused on the physician and his or her professional accolades.

In a traditional business model the “feel” of a practice is typically not addressed; whereas, in a progressive business model it is an integral part of the marketing strategy.  Which model do you think would most likely resonate with a prospective patient?  To develop a strategy that redefines the experience from the patient’s perspective you have to know where you are starting from.  What is your current environment?

Technical Skills Are Expected, Differentiation Comes from Communication

Today, relationships define our success or lack thereof.  Technical skills are expected, the differentiation comes from the communication/bed side manner we have with our patients and staff members.  The input-output economic model reflects the interdependency of the relationship between the two variables.

“It’s not what you say.  It’s how you say it!”

If we look at practice management from a holistic perspective, we realize all of our communications affect our end product and, in turn, directly influence patient engagement.  The old adage, “It’s not what you say, It’s how you say it” certainly reflects the importance of modeling the behavior you want replicated.

This can be especially hard for physicians and attorneys.  Our training instills in us the need to filter out extraneous information and formulate questions that will provide us with the data we need to diagnose and treat.  We are taught to look at the problem, not the individual who comes to us with the problem.

As a result, once we feel we have figured out the problem we tend to tune out or, worse, we fail to tune in at the onset because we decided no real data was being provided.   The problem with this approach is that the extraneous information is what makes the relationship real and sometimes important information is meshed in with the extraneous information.

So what is the environment of your practice?  What are your communication styles?  In essence, how does your practice feel?  As mentioned before, you need to know this information before you set-out to develop an on-line presence.  To get a feel for your office you will want to look at both the direct/concrete communications taking place; as well as the subtle non-descript overtones that encompass the office atmosphere.

We recommend you begin this process by first observing how your staff members interact with you, their colleagues, and most importantly your patients.

Consider the following:

Experiment #1

Leave your office door open and listen to the interactions taking place.  Ideally this would take place at several different times throughout the day.  How are your staff members communicating with each other?  What is the tone of their voice?  How do they speak with your patients?  How do they speak to you?

Experiment #2

Focus on the non-verbal communication styles being used.   Walk through the office and pretend you can’t hear anything.  Observe your office staff?  What does their body language say?  When you approach, are they receptive or do they look apprehensive?

Experiment #3

How are your patients communicating with one another, with staff members, and with you?  What does their body language tell you?

Once you have made your observations you should be able to get a pretty realistic “feel” for your practice.  With this information you can now develop your branding strategy which you will use to develop your on-line presence.


Does Your Practice have a Story? Are Your Employees Proud to be Part of That Story?

Medical Practice Branding, Telling Your Story to Brand Your Practice

A story can help you create a brand.  Your story can engage your patients.  Tell a story and make your employees part of it.  Does your medical practice have a story?

Approximately twenty years ago I (about Amy Wong) took a summer job working for, Katzen Eye Group, one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the state of Maryland.  This summer job lasted eight years and I only left because I decided it was time to go to law school.  So what kept me at a summer job that was only supposed to last until I found a job in the field for which I was trained.  The answer is I became part of the Katzen Eye Group (KEG) story because I knew that together we really did make a difference in our patient’s lives.

***As you are reading this consider whether any of your employees, twelve years from now, would refer their friends, family members and colleagues to your practice.  If you’re not sure, then now is the time to create a story that you and your employees are proud to not only be a part of, but one they enjoy sharing.

The Story Background

When I first started working at Katzen Eye Group I was hired as a receptionist; however, within a month, at my request, I was being trained by the lead technician to learn the duties of an ophthalmic assistant.  Shortly thereafter, I was shadowing the owner and director, Dr. Leeds Katzen; or to those lucky enough to be in his inner circle, Jack Katzen.  Note:  You’ll have to ask him yourself how, as young boy, he got this nickname and why it has stuck with him his whole life.

What makes Dr. Katzen different from his Colleagues?

Dr. Katzen has an innate ability to make everyone (his staff and patients) feel at ease.  He is non-assuming and contrary to most of his counterparts spends more time listening than treating.  His patients, all of them, even the PIA’s are valued.  This sometimes may have meant taking 30 minutes with a patient that was supposed to be a 10 minute follow-up exam.  Now in most practices this would likely have caused disgruntled patients and disgruntled staff members for the remainder of the day…not for us.  We rarely got complaints and when we did they rarely left the office unhappy.    Keep in mind our normal schedule without add-ons usually started with approximately 50 patients.  By the end of the day we had likely seen closer to 60.  So how did he do it?  He did it with his story and by developing that story with his team who supported him throughout the day.  His story, my story, our story evolved each day we were together and, if asked, continues to be retold to this day.

His Story

As a young boy, Dr. Katzen, liked to play ball in Patterson Park and when the sun would finally set he would return to his small row house in Baltimore City, Maryland.  His sleeping quarters were small and for the most part, there were no material luxuries in his life.  His parents were not working professionals so he didn’t have the connections that are usually associated with getting into medical school. In short, nothing was easy for him and he had to work hard to attain everything he achieved, but he had a vision and worked tirelessly to achieve his vision.

His Success Lies in the Fact that he Never Forgot his Story

Dr. Katzen never forgot where he came from and never failed to show his appreciation to those who helped him continue his vision each day.  To this day, he is passionate about his practice, patients, and staff members.

While working with him I enjoyed listening to him reminisce with his patients about what it was like to grow up in Baltimore City, as well as the lessons he learned while in his first years of practice.   It is only now, some twenty years later, I realize this was his way of breaking the perceived doctor/patient barrier.  His stories put everyone at ease and facilitated the entire exam process.

Lessons Learned

To create a memorable story that is worth retelling you will need to engage with your patients as people first and patients second and more importantly, as Dr. Katzen so astutely realized, engage your staff as people first, and employees second.