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Humanize Healthcare with a Lasting Impression

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, October 26, 2011

As marketers, sometimes we let the statistics tell the story. Healthcare messages often flaunt the Press Ganey scores, readmission rates, or patient satisfaction scores. The problem with statistical messages is that they are impermanent – just like their impression in viewers' minds.

What message will stick long after your TV ads and billboard campaigns stop running?

Here's a bit of homework I'm assigning to all the marketers out there – pick a person at your facility to shadow, then tell their story – the one that will resonate in patient's minds.

We know that one of the top patient fears is that doctors and nurses don't really care. You can personalize your system and humanize healthcare by showing that clinicians are people too.

I've completed the assignment myself, by interviewing Mark Tlumacki, an orthotic clinician who has worked for Massachusetts General Hospital for over 30 years. Perhaps his story will inspire you to find and share your stories of how your organization has changed over the years and how your staff has changed too.

Tlumacki, CO, is one part clinician, one part carpenter, one part social worker, and one part motorcycle enthusiast. He wears New Balance sneakers and khaki pants to work instead of a lab coat. Each day in the office is different. Some days he is down in the trauma center dealing with patients with threatening burns. Other days, he spends building contraptions that will help doctors isolate a patient’s tumor. Some days he will spend hours at the computer, pecking with his pointer fingers to file data. 

His glasses rest slightly askew when he looks at you in the eye. Tlumacki grew up at Massachusetts General Hospital; the brown hair in the picture on his ID badge is a testament to that fact. He walked into the maze of a building a 20-year-old lab technician, unable to find the department where he was supposed to work. Over 35 years and three kids later, he is an orthotic clinician and head of the department. Nurses can hear his deep self-deprecating laughter from around the corner. He walks limberly down the hallways, towering at 6’ 2” over his often hunched-over patients.

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