Healthcare is a service setting where meeting the needs of customers (patients and their families) is uniquely challenging. But the necessity, complexity, cost, and high-emotion nature of the service, as well as technological advances and competitive dynamics in the industry, make the imperative for service innovation in healthcare especially urgent. Forward-thinking healthcare institutions around the United States are succeeding in establishing a value-creating innovation culture and in implementing operational and strategic service innovations that benefit them and their stakeholders. They view continuous innovation as a non-negotiable goal, prize institutional self-confidence, and include patients and families on the innovation team. Cancer care, in particular, faces a pressing need for service innovation, and some progressive oncology centers are demonstrating what is possible to improve the patient and family service experience. The imperatives, now, are for service innovation to become part of the fabric of how all healthcare institutions, not just the groundbreakers discussed in this article, operate—and for academics in the field of marketing to play a crucial role in that effort.
Read more about the urgency of service innovation in healthcare here.
Nonclinical and clinical-support personnel serve patients on the front lines of care. Their service interactions have a powerful influence on how patients perceive their entire care experience, including the all-important interactions with clinical staff. Ignoring this reality means squandering opportunities to start patients out on the right foot at each care visit. Medical practices can improve the overall care they provide by focusing on nonclinical and clinical-support services in 5 crucial ways: (1) creating strong first impressions at every care visit by prioritizing superb front-desk service; (2) thoroughly vetting prospective hires to ensure that their values and demeanor align with the organization’s; (3) preparing hired staff to deliver excellent service with a commitment to ongoing training and education at all staff levels; (4) minimizing needless delays in service delivery that can overburden patients and their families in profound ways; and (5) prioritizing the services that patients consider to be most important. We show how cancer care illustrates these principles, which are relevant across medical contexts. Without nonclinical and clinical-support staff who set the right tone for care at every service touchpoint, even the best clinical services cannot be truly optimal.
Read more about improving nonclinical and clinical-support services through the lens of oncology here.
The primary mission of health care is to facilitate healing. People often associate healing only with “cure,” but it is much broader. A clinician heals when she reassures a patient that a symptom does not signal a feared health condition. A treatment heals when it mitigates pain and slows progression of disease. Healing even occurs when a very sick patient dies at home surrounded by family instead of in a hospital attached to machines. Each unique instance of healing represents a physical and emotional journey through difficulty, toward contentment and even peace. All patients need healing, and when clinicians and their institutions actively foster it, they renew themselves, too.
Read more about the importance of realigning healthcare with healing here.
A truck driver entered a Mayo Clinic emergency room, severely short of breath. The diagnosis was a bacterial infection requiring immediate surgery. The patient indicated that her truck was illegally parked at the front entrance and her dog, also sick, was in the truck. Surgery would have to wait. But surgery could not wait, and a nurse volunteered to move the truck and attend to the dog. The truck turned out to be a semi. Finding a parking place, a licensed driver, and dog care fell far outside the nurse’s job description. But promises had been made. The nurse found a Mayo employee who was a former trucker to park the truck in a local shopping center parking lot (with permission). He took the dog to a veterinarian and cared for it in his own home until the patient was discharged. When asked in an interview why he went so far outside the normal service role, the nurse replied, “At Mayo Clinic, the patient’s needs come first.”
This true story, one of many exemplary service stories found in Mayo Clinic’s nearly 160-year history, illustrates the true potential of service: creating a customer experience so valuable and exceptional that the customer feels gratitude afterward. This is the acid test for every organization: how do customers perceive the organization following the service?
Read more about the creation of quality service and the value it begets here.
Mays Business School hosted the 2nd annual Interactive Marketing Research Conference (IMRC) during March 27-29 at the CityCentre campus in Houston. Dr. Venky Shankar, Coleman Chair Professor of Marketing at Mays, chaired the event. Approximately fifty researchers from all over the world attended to showcase their research on data and market trends, featuring over twenty topics.
The event kicked off on Wednesday, March 27, with a research poster session, followed by a reception at the nearby Hotel Sorrells with an address from Mays Business School Dean Eli Jones.
Thursday morning began with an industry keynote address from Damian Fernandez-Lamela, VP Analytics at Fossil. Fernandez-Lamela spoke on the watch market experiencing continuous negative growth from since 2015, with major disruptions in two areas, product technology and distribution/supply chain. The goal of the Fossil marketing department now is to improve the ROI and make smarter decisions using analytics. The company is also working on expanding its focus from just the U.S. to the global market. He also highlighted two marketing challenges: analyzing every touch point along the purchase journey, and determining consumer willingness to pay using surveys.
The academic keynote address came from K. Sudhir, James L. Frank Professor of Marketing at Yale University. Sudhir discussed changes associated with the big data revolution in the customer journey (marketing, engineering/CS, social science) and transparency across firm silos (cross-functional coordination). Sudhir is director of the Yale China India Insights (CIIP) Program. He leads the data-driven consulting and research collaborations with a range of Fortune 500 companies at the Yale Center for Customer Insights.
Thursday concluded with a dinner and a keynote address from Puneet Manchanda, Professor of Marketing at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Manchanda focused on the topic of how society achieves content creation and consumption through a historic analysis of online behavior with the news publishing industry as the focus. Going forward, “if you’re not willing to reward people for creating content, you won’t have it,” he explained.
Mays Marketing Ph.D. student Unnati Narang was presented with the 2018 Shankar-Spiegel Award for the best dissertation research in interactive marketing. Her proposal was chosen from a large competitive pool of research proposals. Her research is on mobile marketing, in particular, retailer mobile apps
The research presentations by academics covered a gamut of topics, including social media, mobile marketing, robots, digital consumer behavior, and artificial intelligence. A wide array of methodologies were on display, ranging from econometrics to field experiments to machine learning.
Friday’s events included a panel discussion on interactive marketing with Pat Coyle, Chief Revenue Office for Texas A&M Athletics, Sarah Darilmaz, Head of Audience Excellence for Annalect , and Vineeth Ram, Chief Revenue Officer for OLI Systems.
Coyle focused on identifying the anonymous customer/fan and using data to track their behavior. He explained how fans wants camaraderie, consistency, recognition, and access to sports and their team. He talked about how to engage fans who approach athletics with a lot of passion through digital marketing.
Darilmaz spoke about digital billboard marketing and using geolocation data to support marketing content for the audience. She also discussed the difficulties with digital advertising against the privacy vs. personalization trade-off.
Ram discussed his experience in Business-to-Business (B2B) eCommerce, working with artificial intelligence technologies, and collaborating with digital publication companies, to grow OLI’s social media presence. He added that comparative metrics on digital media is what governs strategy.
ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL
At Mays Business School, we step up to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,400 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its programs and for faculty research.
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are launching a program to develop transformational leaders in the ever-important health care industry.
Undergraduate Mays students, particularly finance majors, will apply their education in complex revenue cycle operations and health care administration with the primary goal to define, measure, analyze and improve revenue cycle processes in a three-month rotation.
Students will gain exposure to Revenue Cycle Analytics and Business Analytics Departments, including but not limited to the Division of Finance; Financial Clearance Center; Patient Access; Patient Business Services; Health Information management; Revenue Capture and Coding; Treasury Services and Operations; Managed Care; and Clinical Revenue and Reimbursement.
“The Educational Experience Program is a high-impact internship that will reshape how our students advance the world’s prosperity, our vision at Mays Business School,” said the Head of the Department of Finance, Sorin Sorescu. “We have been discussing the right fit and right time with leaders at MD Anderson for several months, and I am thrilled this program is coming to fruition with the incredible individuals at this great organization.”
“We’re excited to partner with Mays Business School in a program that will create a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Connor Burdine, executive director, Revenue Cycle Analytics for MD Anderson. “We know the talented students from Texas A&M will bring diverse perspectives, and we will be able to utilize the work ethic and intellect of these students to help solve business challenges faced by the broader health care industry.”
The Mays – MD Anderson Educational Experience Program is open to sophomore and junior undergraduate majors at Texas A&M University, with a preference for finance majors. Application information is available through Brandy Tuck in the Department of Finance (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the first class will intern in summer 2019.
Shannon Deer, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs at Mays Business School, hosted the 2019 Mays Business School Energy Symposium on March 15 at Texas A&M University’s CityCentre campus in west Houston. Attendees included current and former students representing Mays Houston-based degree programs in all areas of the energy sector.
Energy is one of the three Strategic Initiatives in Mays’ Strategic Plan.
Guy Baber ’06, Vice President of Investor Relations at Marathon Oil Corporation, delivered the keynote. He began with his family’s history in the field and his personal passion and commitment to the energy sector. His discussion included how market forces have changed the upstream landscape over the past several years and how investor preferences continue to evolve. He then fielded questions from those in attendance and remarked on how the industry will likely reach equilibrium once U.S. operators commit to growing production responsibly and living within cash flows.
There are not too many individuals who, when choosing between studying for an MBA and going onto medical school, decide to do both, However, there are not many Ahad Azimuddin(s) in the world. He is an MD/MBA student in Mays Business School.
Upon completion of his MBA degree in August 2019, Azimuddin will switch gears to focus on medical school. His primary interest is in surgery and taking “healthcare” to a whole other level. His focus on the “business of medicine” is off to a great start.
Azimuddin joined Texas A&M University’s MD/MBA Program at Mays Business School after obtaining his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston in biomedical sciences; liberal studies; and minors in chemistry, medicine and society, and economics. While studying for his bachelor’s degree, Azimuddin worked as an undergraduate researcher for the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. Since joining the MD/MBA Program in July 2018, he has already left an indelible, positive mark on his class, and continues to impress.
Earlier this year, Azimuddin took advantage of an opportunity offered at Texas A&M’s McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship and entered the Raymond Ideas Challenge. The campuswide competition encourages undergraduate and graduate students to dream up the next great product or service. Each entry must include a 45-second video pitch of your idea. So Azimuddin submitted his 45-second video pitch of his medical device “L-Clip” idea (a pressure-sensitive medical device for a laryngoscope), and won the $3,000 first-place prize. He won with the Best Idea, as well as the Video Pitch, which brought him another $1,000 prize. …Read more
“Cancer survivor” has become a catch-all phrase to refer to living individuals diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Cancer clinics and clinicians, patient advocacy organizations and media reports commonly use the term.
Using cancer survivor as a descriptor is certainly an act with good intentions. After all, people diagnosed with cancer have a diverse array of physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs – and the language of survival can be empowering to many of them. For this reason, institutions that focus on cancer have framed the term broadly. For example, the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship has defined cancer survivor as “any person diagnosed with cancer from the time of initial diagnosis until his or her death.”
Nevertheless, as marketing professors who study how to better serve patients, we were struck by the notion of applying the term “cancer survivor” so broadly that it would even include people who ultimately die of cancer.
Should the same term be used for the entire spectrum of living people who have experienced cancer, which represents more than 100 distinct diseases affecting approximately 14 million people in the United States?
A complex issue
Indeed, the published research on this question reflects its complexity. An analysis of 23 studies of how people diagnosed with cancer view the term “cancer survivor” shows that although many embrace it, others see it as inappropriate. Some of them fear not surviving if cancer recurs; others think the term itself is disrespectful to people who die of cancer or believe the term better fits people with cancers more serious than their own.
Still others simply don’t want to live with the “survivor label” or don’t think the term reflects who they are. In studies that ask patients to make a discrete yes–no choice about whether they identify as a cancer survivor, the percentage who say “yes” ranges from about 31 percent to 78 percent, depending on the type of cancer and other individual factors, with breast cancer patients generally showing greater affinity for the term than patients with other types of cancer.
Recognizing that forcing a yes–no choice on this delicate question is not ideal, we partnered with Dr. Katie Deming, a radiation oncologist at Kaiser Permanente, and Dr. Jeffrey Landercasper, clinical adjunct professor of surgery at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, to conduct our own study of how current and former patients perceive the term “cancer survivor.” We measured reactions to the term in three ways: a seven-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree, a 100-point allocation exercise from 0 (negative) to 100 (positive) on a continuous scale, and an open-ended question, “What is your personal opinion about the phrase ‘cancer survivor’ and why do you feel as you do?” We analyzed more than 1,400 surveys completed by patients, primarily with breast cancer, who belong to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Army of Women, an organization that connects researchers with people who want to participate in breast cancer research. About three-quarters of our respondents were currently undergoing cancer treatment.
Our findings reinforce the concern that motivated our study. Respondents’ average scores for the two quantitative questions were slightly above the scale midpoints, indicating many people are negatively disposed to the term. The open-ended question was especially revealing in documenting not only how respondents regarded the term but also why. Overall, about 60 percent of comments were negative, 29 percent positive, and 11 percent neutral.
Among the negative responses to the term “cancer survivor,” the most common theme had to do with its disregarding the patient’s fear of recurrence. One woman’s response captures the essence of this concern: “I feel like I’m tempting fate when I say I’ve survived it.”
Other women who felt negatively about the phrase made statements such as “I don’t deserve to carry the title proudly because I didn’t ‘suffer’ enough to earn [it]”; “I prefer not to define myself by my cancer diagnosis or status”; and “it erases the experience of those who [still] have or will die of the disease.”
Patients who felt positively about being called a cancer survivor often said they took pride in the accomplishment of surviving cancer – as one woman put it, “of winning the battle against this life-threatening disease.” Another said the term made her feel “empowered, instead of victimized.” Others cited the sense of community conferred by the phrase, specifically a “personal connection to other cancer patients.”
Our statistical analysis comparing respondents with negative perceptions versus positive perceptions of the term indicates that undergoing active cancer treatment, advanced cancer stage, and older age at diagnosis or study participation are associated with less positive perceptions.
Health care language should do no harm
The key takeaway from our study, and from other published research on the topic, is that using a single label to describe a diverse population of cancer patients in blanket fashion inevitably leaves a substantial percentage of them feeling unrepresented, perhaps even alienated, by the term – even though many others derive positive benefits from using and hearing it. In short, because the group of people typically described by the term is far from a monolith, a single phrase that is subjective rather than factual is unlikely to be up to the task. The label “cancer survivor” is not based on any specific fact related to a person’s particular treatment or diagnosis; it is plainly subjective.
Language used with and about patients is important and can cause needless distress when used without care. Why not let patients choose the language of their cancer-related identity so that it best reflects their own individual experiences and preferences? Existing research, including our own, suggests that the question is worth considering.
The United States Department of Labor predicts, “Today’s learners will have eight to10 jobs by the age of 38.” A majority of these future jobs do not even exist yet. For instance, people interested in both robotics and law could become robotics ethicists to mitigate issues such as ownership of and culpability for decisions made by machines. Because of modern technological innovation, once unimaginable opportunities are becoming new careers.
On Jan. 25, Christopher Bishop – a nonlinear, multimodal careerist – provided students at Texas A&M University with insight into succeeding in these fields of the future. Throughout his life, Bishop continuously redeveloped his skills and created new jobs for himself.
He toured internationally as a musician with artists such as Robert Palmer and Chuck Berry; wrote advertising jingles, including the original “Gimme a Break” Kit Kat jingle; turned a conversation on a commuter train into a 12-year career at IBM; and now delivers presentations on the future of work around the world.
Each time Bishop switched careers, he focused on three fundamental tools for success:
Voice. Identify your own brand. Invest in what makes you stand out. Frame your persona on your own uniqueness.
Antenna. Connect your interests to events in the world. Seek sources based on your values and interests that help you stay informed. These sources include magazines, newspapers, blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts, or other forms of media.
Mesh. Share yourself with those who value your skills. LinkedIn is a valuable tool. Expand your network by adding at least five people each week. Reach out to others who share your interests and goals, and join groups to expand your connections. This puts you on the radar of people you would otherwise miss.
While creating new jobs can be a daunting process, the trepidation behind progress is nothing new. In fact, in 1589, Queen Elizabeth I refused to issue a patent for a mechanized knitting machine, “for fear it [would] put [her] poor subjects out of work.” However, the new workforce should look to the future without hesitation because, as Bishop stated, “As long as there are problems, there will be jobs.”