Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Why entrepreneurs make excellent patients

Every doctor has a favourite type of patient. Thus, many older doctors prefer passive patients, who will blindly trust their doctor and do everything he says, without asking too many questions.
My personal favourite is the entreprenuer. Many of my patients are successful entrepreneurs, and they have certain traits which endears them to me as patients.
1. They believe in the value of information and knowledge, and seek to be well-informed. They are curious, well-read, ask questions, and do their research, so that they have realistic expectations of medical technology. It's much easier to treat them as partners !
2. They are optimistic. Many IVF cycles do fail, as do many business ventures. However, they don't go to pieces when the cycle fails, because they are used to dealing with failure, and understand that each failure is just a stepping stone towards success.
3. They have a long-term perspective. They understand that reaching their final goal - getting a baby - may take time, and that there are many hurdles along the way. However, they are willing to devote the time and energy needed to tackle these hurdles.
4. They understand the concept of risk. They believe in "no pain, no gain" and that you do need to invest time, money and energy if you want to attain your goal - but even if you do your best, there is no certainty that you will succeed.
5. They understand that life is not always fair, and that outcomes are always outside an individual's control. However, performing the medical treatment process properly gives them peace of mind they did their best, so they can move on with their lives.
6. They are used to making their own decisions, just like they do in their professional lives. When running a business, they talk to their lawyer, banker and accountant - but understand that they need to make the final decison themselves. This is their right and their responsibility. They use the same approach when dealing with medical treatment, so that the treatment becomes a partnership between doctor and patient.
7. Because they are well-read and well-informed, they ask interesting questions - and expect me to be able to answer them. This keeps me on my toes, so I continue learning - after all, teaching is the best form of learning !
8. They are articulate, and willing to provide feedback, so if the service we provide is sub-optimal, they let me know, allowing us to improve the care we provide all the time. Every good entrepreneur understand the importance of excellent customer service - and just like they provide it in their own businesses, they expect me to provide it when I am treating them. This allows me to run my practise so that it is patient-friendly, and I can adopt a patient-centric viewpoint .
9. They are willing to commit the time and resources needed to achieve success. They have a pragmatic philosophy towards life, which teaches me a lot about how to run my own. We all learn from one another - and I have learnt a lot about life and how to lead it from my patients.
10. On a personal note, they make excellent friends and counsellors. Since they have dealt with the ups and downs of quite a few businesses, they often have a detached and objective viewpoint, allowing them to offer me sage advise.

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