Influence and Persuasion—The New Clinical Skills You MUST Know

For Clinicians and clinicians-to-be


He was pretty bland as insurance execs go—-but more than any other he burned my soul.


A decade ago when reviewing the first “pay-for-performance” plan our practice was going to have to swallow, he educated us on our metrics reporting. Fully 88% of those between 50 and 75 years old who actually had colons and had not had colon cancer were going to have to have a colonoscopy or guaiac test or we were facing a give-back.


“88% of all of them? No matter what? What if they just refuse? Will that count against us?”


“Everyone,” he replied, “after all, if you can’t convince them to get their colon checked, what good are you?”


What good indeed?


Today, persuasion is an essential skill set in medicine.


It’s the primary tool prospective employers will use on you to get you to sign on.


And once you’ve signed on, it’s the tool you’re going to use to get paid.


Third party payers are going to compensate you on how well your patients do what their insurers want them to do.


You’re responsible for the actions of your patients.


You’re going to have to persuade them to act in the way you think best.


And the techniques you need to do so effectively are not taught anywhere in your training.


Successfully persuading people to change their day-to-day habits is incredibly difficult.


But that’s how third party payers and employers have decided to pay us.  You may end up sounding a little bit like a used car salesman, but if you’re stepping into a “pay-for-performance” situation, you’re gonna have to try.


There is some good news.


Persuasion is not a gift, it’s a skill.


Sure, there are a few rare naturals, but for the most part, it’s learned.


You’ve probably noticed your organization is including some rudimentary influence training in your mandatory education. It’s usually hokey, ham-fisted and insulting.


A better and more useful path:


Your journey starts with reading Influence and Pre-suasion by master persuader Robert Cialdini.


A brief whiteboard summary can be found here.


It’s no substitute for the books, but it will give you a taste.


Never heard of him before? Me neither, until recently.


But he’s a Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. And I guarantee you that every marketer and CEO knows who he is.


What Lister is to antisepsis and Fleming is to penicillin, he is to persuasion.


He is the founder and master of the discipline.


He writes with insight based on his 30 years of empiric, peer-reviewed research.


Salesmen know him. Business executives know him.


And when I finally figured out my job was changing from clinician to persuader, I came to know him as well.


If you’re going to work for third party payers, It’s critical to your success that you know him too.


It’s the most valuable continuing education you can perform.


And you better start now, or risk being left behind.



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