Consumer Experience: Strap A Hog To My Face And Lead Me To Mud

Any week when you learn two new useable phrases is a good week. The two I heard are ‘Strap a hog to my face and lead me to mud’, and ‘He looked like he was slapped in the face by a wet squirrel.’ If you have any favorites, please send them my way.

Did you know that the human eye could detect 7,000,000 colors? That figure sort of puts the use of primary colors and the color wheel to shame. When I look at a color wheel one thing that strikes me is that there is a fixed boundary between the colors—one area is blue and next to the blue is green.

There is no ambiguity in the demarcation among the primary colors. There is red and there is yellow and there is blue. To get orange, you have to combine two distinct colors; the same rule applies to get green. And while the literaturists would have you believe that there are only fifty shades of grey, there are actually an infinite number of shades.

Enough already; make your point.

In the same way the color wheel shows a fixed boundary between each color, healthcare’s approach to consumers and patients appears to adhere to that belief and operates according to the principle that there is a fixed boundary between consumers and patients—it’s like Binary Sudoku; you either are a patient, or you are not.

From the standpoint of the individual, we are all patients. Some of us are under care, a fair number of us should be under a doctor’s care, but we don’t know we have heart disease or hypertension, and the rest of us, those who are healthy will eventually be under a doctor’s care.

It’s like driving to Nebraska. Some of us already arrived, some are halfway there, and the rest of us are on our way. After you visited the German POW Urinal in Minden, Nebraska, you may leave. A few months later you may return and visit the shoe fence in North Port, Nebraska. (I need to add these to my list of fun things to do in Nebraska.)

In healthcare, unlike with colors, you can’t mix a patient and a consumer and make orange. The fixed boundaries between patients and consumers make for bad experiences because experiences were never designed for consumers. A provider’s call center and website have very little ability to meet the needs of prospective patients, care givers, family members, and referring physicians.

But then again, the call centers and websites have very little ability to meet the needs of patients either; unless of course the patient wants to know what time the gift shop opens—information that is easily found on most provider websites.

If I use the Domino’s Pizza app it knows I am a customer. It knows my address. It knows what I usually order, and it knows my preferred method of payment.

If I use the CVS app, it knows the moment I walk into their store.

If you have been a cancer patient for the last four months at Our Lady of Customer Indifference, and you call your health system, the person answering the phone does not even know your name let alone the fact that you are undergoing chemotherapy.

So perhaps I have overstated my case. Maybe there is no distinction between how healthcare treats patients and customers. From an experience standpoint, it seems both are treated equally poorly.

So, strap a hog to my face and lead me to mud.

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