Tag Archives: corporate responsibility

Leana’s Healing Miracle

I listen to too much NPR. Interesting people stop me in my tracks. I listen to my local station, Sirius, On-line… I especially like the TED Radio Hour. TRH appeals to both my innate curiosity and my “short little attention span,” as Paul would say. I like some of the TED talks and TRH allows me to sort those without having to spend days watching YouTube. I find little satisfaction in short made-for-cable news stories these days and NPR, TED and others seem to do the trick.

 

Leana Wen seems to on to something in which I believe you might be interested.

 

Doctor Wen was enchanted with an idea a few years ago that also enchanted the good folks over at TED. With all the hubbub over being able to select your doctor, why not enhance the experience? In a nutshell, ole Doc Wen feels the patient would better served if the doctor they selected was something a little better than a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

 

A strange idea; before you get naked and discuss your sex life with someone, you might have some idea who that person might be. You know, what makes the person tick.

 

IMG_1791The ticking person in question is your doctor. Knowing if your doctor made twenty percent of her income from a particular drug company might have some bearing on your care, don’t you think? I have some experience with this last one. Once, I was changed from a blood pressure medicine which was working well without explanation. My friend who worked as a bookkeeper put the change in perfect focus later. She told me she hadn’t bought lunch in years. Turns out, the drug company which made my new drug bought extravagant lunches EVERY DAY for the whole office. I wonder to what largess my doctor was treated.

 

I wonder how my new drug compared to the old one in cost…nevermind, I have a pretty good idea.

 

Doctor Wen’s idea met with quick and universal condemnation from her peers. Her life was actually threatened. I will let you watch and weigh her assertions for yourself. Her assertions however, may speak volumes. In my experience, the louder the yell, the truer the arrow. The doctors and politicians who seem to hold the doctor-patient relationship in highest regard should welcome and celebrate her ideas. Sadly, many doctors seem to feel personally invaded as Doctor Wen tells the world the emperor has no clothes. Maybe they like a naked emperor and patients as long as they can hide behind their lab coats. I just wonder who else is in the coat with them.

Al Knows Best

We had a funny saying in our family about my Grandfather Curtis. We whispered that if he had fifteen minutes he could make you kin to us. I met a man named Al Hathorn later when I clerked at a drug store who was the same way. Al loved the public. He took joy in learning your story. In a few questions, he could usually find a mutual friend. It wasn’t hard for Al because he knew EVERYBODY. He made the little drugstore chain a smash hit in Russellville where I grew up. He separated our little chain drugstore from the pack because he actually cared about his customers. He loved their stories and loved serving them. He kept glass bottles way after the other guys because his customers liked them. He compounded salves and even rolled pills because he knew it would make you feel special. That kind of thing made you feel like he had gone that extra mile just for you. Rolling pills you ask, well that is an article for another day. Anyway, he knew, instinctively, what companies sometimes forget these days. He knew his check depended on his customers and he was grateful.

I hope you get to meet Al someday. He probably knew your uncle twice removed.

There were plenty of drugstores in Russellville and Al understood he needed to be different. God made him that way and he took full advantage of his difference to become a very successful pharmacist and a very good boss. It wasn’t a gimmick. It was a real service that no one could provide quite like he did. He taught me the real way to treat customers. He lived it. I guess he mostly sells friendship. The pills, liniments and salves were just a side benefit. I heard when he left the latest conglomerate to buy our little chain for a local neighborhood drug store, he carried over 300 scripts a day with him. Scripts are drugstore lingo for prescriptions.

See, you always learn something here.

The conglomerate was interested in how many scripts a pharmacist could fill in a day. They made the pharmacist stand 20 feet away from customers so he would not be distracted from checking scripts. Those scripts were really filled by a kid two or three years out of high school. Rolling a pill or compounding a salve was out of the question. The little clerks were supposed to establish the relationship with the customer. That was hard because there was a new one every few months. Apparently it is hard to make a living on eight dollars and hour. I think the conglomerate missed the strength of their pharmacist they got in-trade when they bought our little chain.

Do you sense a loss like that somewhere you do business?

Companies seem to be more interested in a gimmick or some kind of sneaky edge instead of a real innovative product these days. They want to put less cereal in a box, it’s settlement man, it’s settlement, or pay their employees less to put quick money on the bottom line. When they do this kind of short term money grab, I believe they lose their corporate souls. Yeah, I just said corporations had a soul. Well if not a soul, at least they should have a conscience. I think they should ask themselves if they have a product or service that really might make the world a better place. How they answer that question, I believe, is their corporate soul.

Do you know a corporation that really makes a better mousetrap? I think I know a few.

Without a better mousetrap, a company is reduced to the gimmick to get an edge. Our Walmart culture rewards a company that builds the same mousetrap with child labor in Whateverstan over the brand built with pride for years in New Jersey. If you lock those kids in a fire-trap and payem 50 cents a day, throwing every third mousetrap away still makes you a pile of cash. Shareholders reward that company too. We don’t buy and hold good company stock with a decent return. We look for the quick buck from a company that has lost its soul at the altar of the almighty buck. In this environment, laying off a loyal work force and shipping the jobs to the fire-trap in Whateverstan becomes admirable and the stock soars. When dollar worship becomes the sole motivation for either buyers or sellers we not only lose OUR souls, we lose what made our country great. We lose things like innovation, service and real value. We lose our values. I think our values are the ones which Al’s customers come to buy. It sure ain’t the pills. They can buy those anywhere.