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In the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a TV weatherman—Phil Connors—who has a general dislike for people. He is uncomfortable about his assignment, covering the annual groundhog festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Phil is uncomfortable about interacting with the small-town people in Punxsutawney. He is uncomfortable working with his peers on this assignment. Likewise, no one who interacts with him on this fateful Groundhog Day is comfortable having to work with the arrogant, unfriendly, disrespectful Phil Connors.

As Phil and his team are getting ready to leave, a snowstorm hits and shuts down the town, forcing everyone to stay another night. Phil wakes up the next day and finds that he is reliving Groundhog Day all over again. The day plays out exactly as it did before, with only Phil’s choices of how to respond subject to change. Only Phil is aware of this. He faces the same familiar events the next day—and the next—and the next. Every day is Groundhog Day! Phil grows more and more depressed the longer this goes on until he is inspired to change his attitude and his daily behaviors to break outside his comfort zone.

This choice allows him to have a positive influence on the people he interacts with during the day. His inspiration is a woman—Andie MacDowell, playing his producer—who emerges as the film’s love interest. All Phil’s attempts at winning her over fail, day after familiar day, until he finally comes to the realization that he has to challenge his comfort zone in order to get what he wants. Just doing it the way he’s done it up until now isn’t getting him what he wants—he has to change his behaviors and give the woman he loves what she wants to get what he wants. Thus the time loop is broken.

A lot of medical practices find themselves in something very similar to Phil’s predicament.

Sandler has worked with countless healthcare professionals over the years, and we’ve found the pressures and stresses of their day often put them in a similar time loop of feeling uncomfortable—of feeling not-OK. We have also found, through many long hours of observing patients, that they are also stuck in a time loop of feeling not-OK about their medical situation. Why? Because they’ve come to expect a mediocre patient experience, visit after visit, medical office after medical office, year after year.

So let me ask you these questions: What if nothing changes? Will your healthcare professionals be able to maintain a profitable flow of patients, day after day? Will they be willing to adjust to the significant changes in the future of healthcare? Will they be supportive and cooperative with their peers? Will your patients be more understanding when their expectations are not met? Will they be more respectful of the professionals that care for them? Will they be raving about your medical practice?

Common sense and our own life experiences tell us the answer is, “No.” If nothing changes in the patient experience from how it is today, both staff and patients will be in a perpetual loop of feeling anxious, frustrated, and angry about their perceived experience—which will affect the bottom line of the practice. If nothing changes for the healthcare professionals, they will continue feeling pressured, stressed, and defeated, day after day—and these feelings will have a ripple effect on everyone they come in contact with.

Most of the medical professionals we help have come to us for the very reasons stated above. Contact us today to break this cycle and create a better patient and provider experience.

Excerpted from the soon to be released: Patient Care the Sandler Way, by Donna Bak 



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