Episode 10: Dr. Zeev Neuwirth’s roadmap for disrupting healthcare

In a career that spans three decades, Dr. Zeev Neuwirth has held many roles: primary care physician, medical educator, medical director and physician executive. Over the years, he’s observed one constant: people want and need to be treated better.

His new book “Reframing Healthcare: A Roadmap For Creating Disruptive Change” calls for a shift from today’s medical mindset to a “marketing mindset,” which Zeev says will lead to more consumer-centric, empathetic, customized healthcare.

On this episode, Zeev guides listeners through his road map for disruptive change and the steps required to create a better healthcare system.

Here are a few highlights from Zeev Neuwirth’s Fixing Healthcare interview.

On doctors embracing a ‘marketing mindset’

The essence of marketing is all about understanding people, understanding their needs, finding customer segments, customizing solutions for those segments, delivering those solutions, and making sure that you’re engaging your customers and continue to make your solution relevant to them. If you think about it, that actually isn’t all that different from the fundamental principles of medical care. It’s really about knowing your patients, understanding your patients, taking the generic training and evidence-based medicine you’ve been taught, and customizing it to that individual in front of you, and then making sure they understand it, and they can actually use the wisdom and knowledge and skill that you’re bringing to them.

On redesigning medicine with the consumer in mind

If something is designed well, whether that’s an experience at an amusement park or it’s going to a store or anything else for that matter, it engages you. You’re sucked into it … If things aren’t designed well, they become irrelevant to you. In fact, they become caustic to you. I would argue that healthcare has paid very, very little attention to human-centered design. I think it is one of the fundamental flaws of our so-called legacy medical mindset.

On rethinking results from the patient’s perspective

No one ever asked (the patient), “What are the results that matter to you in this surgery, or in this procedure, or in this treatment?” For me, the results that matter might be that I want to be able to walk my dog, or walk with my wife five blocks, or go on a walk after dinner without having severe pain in my hip, or I want to be able to bend over and tie my shoes without severe pain. Or, if I’m an athlete, I want to get back to jogging, or going skiing. That focus on what we now call patient-reported outcomes measures or PROMs, is really still very, very fringe in healthcare. I think its core to every other industry.

On physician burnout

The issue of burnout in healthcare is incredibly serious … It’s an epidemic. When one out of every two doctors is burnt out, that means they’re emotionally exhausted. They feel depersonalized. They’re depressed. They’re demoralized. That’s a public health issue. You don’t want your doctor feeling that way because they’re not going to be on top of their game. Who wants a surgeon standing over them who’s depressed and demoralized? I don’t.

On making change happen

I think we’re in, what I would call, a phase change … in healthcare. The economy can’t bear the burden of the cost of healthcare and the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness anymore. Employers are just not going to stand for it. Payers are not going to stand for it. I think if you don’t pick up this book, and if you don’t see the reality in front of you, and you put it down for another year or two, I think you’re going to be at a major, major competitive disadvantage.

READ: Full transcript of our discussion with Zeev Neuwirth

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Fixing Healthcare is a co-production of Dr. Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr. Subscribe to the show via Apple Podcasts or wherever you find podcasts. Join the conversation or suggest a guest by following the show on Twitter and LinkedIn.