Healthcare’s Lipstick on a Goldfish

Had I titled this post ‘Lipstick on a Pig,’ you may have skipped it thinking it was a bit too much Sarah Palin and not enough healthcare.  Hence, ‘Lipstick on a goldfish.’  Besides, I found it amusing wondering how one gets a goldfish to stay still long enough to apply the lipstick.

Sticking with the pig theme, Winston Churchill, Mr. Prime Minister to those of us who had a less formal relationship with the man—those who were decades away from the zygote phase of our lives, stated, ‘I am fond of pigs.  Dogs look up to us.  Cats look down at us.  Pigs treat us as equals.”

Knowing that, I dedicate myself each day to be a better pig (or fish).  Having realized that dedicating myself once a day was not yielding the results for which I aspired, I commenced to rededicating myself twice a day.  Having rededicated myself twice a day, I wrestled the pig to the ground and schmeared on Katy Kat Pearl Lipstick.


For more than a decade I have been running on a trail along a river.  During that same decade, weather permitting, I always encountered two groups of individuals; cyclists and fly fishermen.  And for more than a decade, there was a singular constant.  Both groups dressed the part of their respective sports.

The fishermen—I could have written the fishermen or the fisherwomen, but by now you know I have little patience when it comes to appeasing those who are politically correct. The people standing in the river are dressed like they had bought every possible fishing accessory from Orvis.  Neoprene waders, a fly-fishing vest—one with enough pockets to resemble the type of vest a war photographer in Falluja wore, a Filson Parker Hat, and a Wetfly wooden catch and release net.

The cyclists also dressed the part.  They dressed as though they were competing in the Tour de France—expensive cycling shoes, and cycling jerseys and pants festooned with labels of manufacturers of different cycling products.  Had I bothered to look closer, I am certain I would have noticed that many of them had shaved their legs to streamline their ride.

During that decade, I never saw a single fishing-person—my attempt to be gender neutral—catch a single fish.  Also, I never saw a cyclist who looked like he or she would be competitive in a cycling time-trial.

It is almost as though their mindset is that if they dress the part, good things will happen.  Lipstick on a goldfish—or is it goldfishes?

Dressing it up does not yield favorable results.

Paul, where are you going with this, you may ask.

Fair enough.

Payers and providers have websites.  Some have as many as a thousand URLs.  And like it or not, from a patient’s or member’s or customer’s perspective, those websites have no more value than lipstick on a pig or on whatever may be your favorite animal.

The people who created those websites—I thought about using the word ‘designed’ instead of the word ‘created’—never spoke with a patient, member, or customer.

More often than not, those websites are nothing more than a joint effort of your marketing and IT departments.  The websites are pretty.  They have hundreds of clickable links.  They have dozens of phone numbers.

From the perspective of your patients, members, and customers, those websites are a waste of digital 1’s and 0’s. They look important.  They look useful.  But they provide nothing of value to the people who go to the site.  Healthcare websites have no more value to your customers than the outfits I saw that were worn by the people I passed who are fishing and biking.

Lipstick on a pig, a goldfish, or an armadillo.

Dressing it up does not deliver results.



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