Bias is everywhere. In fact, it is biologically locked into our human psyche. Now before you go on thinking this is a political rant or whatever, it isn't. Besides, when have I EVER actually gone political on you, right? Never.
What this is about is yet another experience of being a healthcare consumer and how it relates to something called the Halo Effect. I've mentioned this more than once before; in effect, if you look the part, people will think higher of you to play the part.
So here's a personal-professional-all-around-transcendent thought process on....
The Power of Presentation
A couple weeks ago, the time finally came around for me to take my son to his very first dental appointment. I'm sure you've noticed in some of my linguo here on this blog... I don't exactly have fond sentiments towards dentistry. In fact, avoidant fear is perhaps a better descriptor. To my wife's entire credit, she did all the shopping around between social media, Yelp, and a few other resources, found the most highly recommended and rated practice within a reasonable drive. It looked great online and the reviews were really quite amazing.
So, we gave it a go!
You walked through the front door and it literally looked like a playhouse. The colors were bright, unoffending, and looked more like Chuck E Cheese than it did a dental office or any other healthcare clinic for that matter.
We entered and to the right were three playstations with 24 inch screens all set up and ready to go, games running, controllers waiting. The game options were Lego Star Wars, the game from the movie Up, and the Toy Story game. I had to do everything I could to avoid my own temptation to play. Turn left and you saw what probably was a 46 inch flat screen TV, mounted high up away from explorative little hands. On the screen was the Lego Movie.
There wasn't that smell of a dentist's office neither were there the sounds of drills, spittoons, and water hoses. It sounded like a place where kids would have fun. If my son wasn't going to go play, I certainly was! When we were called in, every treatment room was actually themed for play minus the adolescent rooms which were more traditional in the dentistry image. The rooms were themed for a certain age bracket and type of play.
The private room we went into had a small table, toddler seats, and a big box of toys. The playroom was the treatment room and it was incredible.
As it was specifically a pediatric dental practice, the entire place was specifically made to feel like a playground and it was AMAZING. The service was very fast. We were told what was to be expected at the front door, by the assistant, and then by the doctor.
Given similar price points and elements of convenience, a top-shelf looking place is always going to outshine the bargain deal. There is always a power of presentation given the fact that the business of healthcare is the service of people.
Why Am I Sharing This Story?
I share this life experience with you because I struggle in my recollections to how well physical therapy tends to be presented. Many PT departments have small backrooms, storage wells, and otherwise "the dungeon" type locations for offices. While most private practices certainly invest in their presentation, I find that larger organizations tend to be a bit in wanting.
I find this unfortunate because the larger organizations tend to serve a proportionately larger segment of our consumer base. If the dungeon is all that we have to offer, how much better could our services truly be in terms of expected quality?
In marketing, brand image nearly always outweighs brand identity because it is the consumer's mind we need to convince in buying our brand.
If this post does anything, I hope it emboldens those of you working within larger organizations (including students rotating in said settings) to perhaps bring up a humble discussion; maybe the powers at be would be willing to invest in presentations properly representative to the power of our clinical and valued added offerings.