Lessons For Successful Physicians From Steve Jobs

In this video from 1997, Steve Jobs responds to questions from the audience. A man tells him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and wants to know more about why a certain product was not developed further.

Three things about Steve’s answer intrigued me. Take a look at the video and see if you agree. See if you can start applying these lessons in your business this week.

The Video – Steve Jobs answers an insulting question

Lesson 1 – It’s not about the technology

Most of us are so far removed from being in the shoes of our patients (me included) that it’s hard to picture ourselves sitting where they are, feeling what they’re feeling.

Steve says: It’s not about the technology, but about the experience we give to the customer.

Our success in our patients’ eyes has less to do with the specific technology or style of procedure/program we offer and more to do with how our patients feel about us and about our practice.

The truth of this is borne out in the most common root cause of lawsuits: “he didn’t listen to me”; “he didn’t spend time with me”.

Do you think your patients will be more likely to refer other family or friends to you because of the specific doo-hickey you use, or because they remember having a good, positive experience with you?

Lesson 2 – Have grace under pressure

This lesson is more about the way Steve responded than his actual response about the “gentleman’s” question.

He took a deep breath, a drink of water, and was silent while he either collected his thoughts, counted to five, or thought about what NOT to say!

We’ve all been sitting across from an unhappy patient on the attack – I know my first reaction is to be defensive and start explaining away every concern the patient has with my cold, calculating powers of logic and reason – not usually a good move.

The point is to remain deferential, acknowledge fault where there is fault, and add some explanation if relevant.

The other big lesson is that you can’t please every patient or be best buddies with all of them. This sounds elementary, but I didn’t “get it” until my fellowship year where some very wise mentors showed me this truth.

Lesson 3 – Mistakes will be made

Not necessarily patient care or treatment mistakes, but mistakes in business strategy, customer service, or marketing misadventures.

As Steve says in the video – mistakes mean that decisions are being made. Action is being taken. Risk is being taken. All of these are components of a successful practice.

Physicians at the top of their business and practice management game do not sit around, waiting for things to “happen to them” – they make decisions and take action, knowing that mistakes may and probably will be made along the way.

In a world where new physician enemies seem to rise up out of the sea every two or three weeks, we need every edge we can get. No one’s offered me anything on a silver platter lately…

Leave some comments below – can you see ways of applying this or any other lessons in your practice? How can we serve our patients better by adopting this mindset?

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  1. says

    Noel has captured some very important principles from Steve Jobs that we physicians must learn from. The future of our profession depends on how well we listen to our “customers” and then provide to the best of our ability the solutions to their needs. They don’t come to us for our fancy technology nor even our knowledge or training. The reason WHY they have come is to get answers to their questions that have risen from their fears! Our reputations for knowledge or training may be the reason they chose us, but we must always be aware of WHY they come to our doors. Then we must listen and explain in ways they can understand what are the findings, what are the options, what are the risks/rewards for each option, and our suggested plan for best outcome. Word gets out quickly to their friends, relatives and even strangers that YOUR office is where to go!

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