Healthcare Professionals Must Become Salespeople If Parent Perceptions are to Change
A new study published in this month's Pediatrics reveals that parents are hesitant to give their children potentially life-changing asthma medications because they are not convinced they're needed and they are fearful of potential side effects. In fact, only about half of all prescribed preventive asthma medications were taken as directed.
OK -- it's time for true confessions. Within the last month I visited my physician for a non-asthma issue and on the way home I struggled. Should I fill the prescription? Was it really necessary? Even with my insurance coverage, it was expensive! Was it worth risking the potential serious side effects? I chastised myself as I asked, "Well, then Nanc, why did you go to the doctor if you are second-guessing the recommended treatment?"
I quickly answered my own query -- I had not been "sold."
I was not sure the diagnosis was correct, and furthermore, I had not been persuaded that the expense and possible harmful effects were worth it. Who knew that a healthcare professional needed sales expertise? I am telling all professionals right now -- the consumer of this century is different. Resources, including time and funds, are tighter than ever... and the reality is that we are used to being "sold" -- in other words, we want to be convinced that any course of action is the right one.
Healthcare professionals are usually excellent at answering "how long?" and "how often?" as they hand parents and patients their scripts, but too often they forget to answer the "why, how (when prescribing a new device, like an inhaler) and what if's." I know this takes extra time, but the investment of yet another endangered resource, "healthcare professional time," must take place at some time, why not upfront when patient health and professional credibility are freshly at risk?
New preventative asthma medications are available that can mold children's lives in a way like never before, but they must be taken even when symptoms are invisible and of course, side effects are always a concern. Healthcare professionals -- tell parents, sell parents.