Managing your marketing strategy and business operations under the intense scrutiny of the public, media, and community can feel overwhelming, but as we learned at our third ETHOS event in Philadelphia, it doesn’t have to be.
Many of us remember learning those “golden rules” in kindergarten: Don’t tell lies, treat your neighbor like you would like to be treated, speak up when something is wrong. At ETHOS, we learned that operating ethically can be as simple as applying these rules.
Our morning opened with Jean Krisle’s journey from motivational speaker and consultant to advocate for addiction treatment & recovery. Jean, the founder of 10,000 Beds, has traveled all over the country promoting her non-profit. She tells the story of how it all started: her son’s struggle with addiction. Like many stories of substance abuse and recovery, it was an uphill battle with failed attempts at treatment, homelessness, and an intervention. With the love and support of his family, Jean’s son eventually beat his addiction and recently celebrated 2 years clean.
A few months earlier, she had been relaying the same story to a crowd much like ours, but on this day, her son was in attendance. At the end, she asked him to fact check her story. He got up. Walked to the stage, and said this:
“Mom, there was only one thing you got wrong. It wasn’t a failed intervention. The morning I decided to get help, I woke up and I realized I only had three choices:
1: To shoot up again
2: Commit suicide
3: Get help
I chose option 3 because of that intervention.”
He remembered the love his family had for him and decided on recovery because of it. The golden rule: If you see something wrong, speak up. It is always the difficult, uncomfortable conversations that have the biggest impact.
During our panel on the value of ethics for business success, Ben Cort, founder of ATMO and owner of Cort Consulting brought us right back to our kindergarten days and put things quite succinctly: Don’t lie.
With Google’s recent changes to Adwords and the law coming down hard in Florida and other states, many professionals may be feeling a little uneasy about the future. Operating ethically has never been more important.
Despite the mounting pressure to operate ethically, there are situations where being ethical isn’t so black and white and you’re stuck between two “right” paths. Whether there is a clear right direction or not, you should never lie. Don’t lie about clinician experience. Don’t lie about amenities. Don’t lie about what your program offers.
Bottom line: if you operate truthfully and with the patient’s best interest in mind, you’ll usually have the authenticity and integrity to back up any business decision you make.
Our next session was with Josh Zeises, Director of Alumni & Patient Experience at Journey Pure. Many times, Alumni programs seem to come as an afterthought or are not believed to be a necessity, but Josh taught us we should be thinking the opposite.
People who are seeking recovery need support in order to turn their life around. If your facility and your staff are able to give them the support they need and “hold their hand” through the process, not only will they successfully complete your program, they will also become your biggest advocate which can result in more referrals and a better reputation for your facility.
James Hadlock, marketing director at Acqua Recovery, spent an hour and a half teaching us about the importance of deep listening. Many of us have heard of active listening; James’ approach to listening however, pushed you a little further out of your comfort zone.
James asked us to partner with someone we didn’t know in the room. As our partner shared a story with us, we were asked to sit in complete silence and only listen. We found that in these silences, our partner was able to go deeper about their experience. They shared more and seemed to become braver in the silent space we gave them.
In the addiction treatment industry, we need to treat every patient like we would our loved ones. Patients aren’t another admit or bed to fill. They aren’t another “addict”. They’re a person looking for connection.
James reminded us that taking the time to know someone instead of immediately jumping to logistics like insurance or payment will allow you to build trust. This trust-building results in measurable benefits for your facility including increased admissions and higher referral rates.
We ended the day with Eric P. Yorlano, CEO and founder of Integrity Billing, to discuss facility and insurer relationships. He said “We as an industry need to polish our brand and teach the nation what good practices are.” In other words, we all need to strive to be the best we can be in order for the industry as a whole to change for the better. This includes: self-policing, speaking up when things are wrong, and not lying. If we apply these practices and always put the patient first, operating ethically will come naturally.