Building Better Patient Relationships

The November, 2011 Harvard Business Review, “How I Did It” section contains an interesting and thought provoking article that, in my opinion, all healthcare leaders would do well to read, and carefully think about.  The article is written by Kevin Peters, President of Office Depot and leader of all Office Depot’s retail stores throughout United States.

It would be a huge mistake, to assume that healthcare leaders cannot learn from Kevin Peters and Office Depot, or from any other industry or company for that matter.

Peters very candidly describes his personal involvement, what he learned, and what others can learn from his successful journey and leadership to change the focus of 22,500 Office Depot associates from a focus on “products and the store” to a focus on “building customer relationships.”

In describing his journey and efforts, Peters touches on several strategies that are crucial to all healthcare leaders and healthcare organizations, such as:

  • “We had to dramatically improve the in-store experience for our customers.”  Without question, most healthcare leaders need to dramatically improve the experience of their patients, patient’s families, and visitors.


  • “We had to look beyond office products to provide other services our customers wanted.”  Most healthcare leaders need to look beyond traditional healthcare services to provide other services patients want… services patients will purchase… wherever available!


  • “Talking directly with dozens of customers also reminded me of a cold, hard fact: they have many choices.”  Without question, many healthcare leaders and organizations need to constantly remind themselves of a cold, hard fact: their patients and customers have many choices!


Peters and his colleagues developed three simple questions that have dramatically improved building relationships and serving customers all across America.  These same questions can be used very effectively in any healthcare setting.

Building better relationships with patients and your community… an absolute mandate for current and future success in any healthcare organization!

The article can be found starting on page 47 of the November 2011 Harvard Business Review.  A great article for a team discussion regarding how to improve relationships with your patients, your stakeholders, and your community!

Copyright © 2011 by Dan Nielsen

Founder, National Institute for Healthcare Leadership 

Founder, America’s Healthcare Leaders 

Cell 214-695-1292

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