I was selected to serve jury duty recently. After sitting through a month-long medical malpractice case as Juror No. 2, I not only have a greater appreciation for our judicial system but a renewed respect for physicians, also known as your customers.
The plaintiff was a 76-year-old man claiming that the defendants, three physicians, were responsible for his paralysis from the waist down as a result of a delayed diagnosis that occurred seven years ago.
The physicians were found not guilty. The verdict was delivered, the case closed, we were sent home and that night I really gave the case some good thought. Those three physicians who were going to work every day to care for patients and save lives were on trial for deviating from the accepted-level standard of care to a patient. Through the past seven years, through career changes, children being born and family members dying, they had had this case hanging over their heads. Pretty minor compared to what the patient had had to endure, but a reminder that our customers are multidimensional. Yet another reason to really get to know these people called physicians.
Working in medical marketing, I help our clients promote the newest medical devices and therapies and offer physicians new ways of treating and caring for patients. My experience in this field and as Juror No. 2 has made me appreciate all the more that our clients’ customers have a huge amount of pressure on them to do their jobs not only well, but as close to perfection as possible. It’s hard for the non-medically trained to imagine the amount of information a single physician must retain so that in any instance, in a split second, decisions can be made that first, do no harm, and second, positively impact a person’s life or well-being.
Perhaps the most valuable takeaway from my jury experience was a reminder that risk is a daily occupational hazard for physicians. In addition to clinical efficacy, it’s why clinical data is so important. Why positive feedback from thought leaders is so vital. And why physicians may greet your Great New Innovation with healthy skepticism. So resist thinking of surgeons and other specialists as “markets” or “segments.” They’re people under pressure. The more they understand you’re trying to relieve that pressure, the better off you’ll be.
Jen Charron is an account manager at Seidler Bernstein. Her background in marketing and health care includes JCSI Corp.; Concord Hospital of Concord, N.H.; TMP Worldwide; and Southern New Hampshire University. Jen holds a BA in advertising and a minor in humanities from Southern New Hampshire University, where she also earned her MS in organizational leadership. She is also Seidler Bernstein’s perennial bake-off champion.