We hear a patient’s perspective on healthcare from Scott Ballard on this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare podcast with Rob Oliver. This is interview 36 of the Guinness World Record setting patient interview marathon. Scott is from Oregon and shares his personal story. I hope you learn a lot from what he has to say.
Here are 3 things that stood out as Scott Ballard shared a patient’s perspective on healthcare:
- Healthcare professionals should focus on the individual before they focus on the patient’s presenting issue.
- MIC DROP: One word to improve healthcare quality… Smile!
- Building trust and making patients feel understood is essential to improving healthcare quality.
Here is the conversation with Scott Ballard as he gave us a patient’s perspective on healthcare
Introduction to Scott Ballard
Rob Oliver: Welcome to the podcast, my friend. Can you share with my audience? What is your name?
Scott Ballard: Yeah, I’m Scott Ballard.
Rob Oliver: Wonderful, Scott. And where are you joining us from?
Scott Ballard: Just outside of Portland, Oregon, on the West Coast.
Rob Oliver: Okay, so we’re going back to back West Coast. We had Northern California just now in Oregon. You guys are, in relative terms, semi neighbors.
Scott Ballard: Yes, exactly.
What is your experience as a patient in healthcare?
Rob Oliver: Good. So, Scott, can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your life experience and your experience in health care? Yeah. I was glad that you reached out about this.
Scott Ballard: So my story goes back about eight years ago, and my dear wife of 40 years had kept nagging me. I was missing teeth. I had a lot of dental problems. It was a disaster in my mouth. And so I went around and tried to find somebody that could really restore my teeth, my smile, whatever. I went to a bunch of places and it just felt like a used car situation. It just wasn’t fun. And they said it would take years to do this and a lot of money and time. And finally my wife found a dentist here in our area. And she said, just go one more time. I know you don’t want to. I know you dread the dentist. You hate the dentist. Go one more time for me. And I went and I met Doctor Lampie. And what was exciting about that was after they took the X rays and they did all this kind of stuff, he actually came in and he was like a kid in a candy store. He goes, this is amazing what we can do and how we can help you. He was so excited about the problem, and I had a huge gap in my teeth and missing I mean, it was just bad. And he was so excited. I was kind of shocked. Like, who is this guy? He was a younger he was probably 32 or three at that point, a younger guy. And yet he was excited and he was so enthusiastic about how he could help me and what he could do. That’s the experience that came to my mind.
Who is your healthcare hero?
Scott Ballard: My hero in healthcare really is a dentist, which is bizarre. I know, but it is.
Rob Oliver: Okay. So you kind of jumped my next question, which is okay. And I’ll ask you, can you tell us the dentist’s name?
Scott Ballard: Yeah. Dr. Heath Lampie. And he practices here in Beaverton, Oregon, and just does phenomenal work with people that have severe dental problems. That’s kind of his specialty. That’s all he does.
Rob Oliver: Now, right. So I’d like to get some clarification on a comment that you made. And that is you said that as you were going from dentist to dentist, you had a used car kind of experience. Can you talk to me about what you mean by that?
Scott Ballard: Yeah. What I mean was it felt like they were trying to sell me on something that wasn’t really going to get the result I wanted and wasn’t really it was on there the way they wanted. They wanted me to buy the yellow VW Bug. And what I needed was the Ford Bronco. But they kept saying this. It just felt awkward. Also, I have enormous dental anxiety because of my life. I was already stressed out, and then they just made it worse. So it felt like being on a used car lot to me.
Rob Oliver: Okay. So let me see if I can make the analogy here, because sometimes the car lot only has a limited inventory and they’re trying to sell you something from their lot when what they have on their lot may not meet your needs. Does that resonate with you?
Scott Ballard: 100%. And how that was expressed, the biggest was that they were talking about years for me to get the restoration and the repair I needed. And when I got to Doctor Lampie’s, he was talking about one day at 6 hours, he could fix this whole thing.
Rob Oliver: Wow.
Scott Ballard: And he did.
Rob Oliver: Right. Okay, so there’s the two elements to it. The one is being able to say, I can fix this. And the other thing is that he said he could do it. And then Lo and behold, here he goes. You got a million dollar smile now, Scott, and it all works out well. So good stuff. All right.
Quality healthcare definition
Rob Oliver: What does quality healthcare mean to you?
Scott Ballard: Yeah, I think it’s personalized between the health caregiver and the person. I felt a personal connection to him based on his enthusiasm for my problem, which is counterintuitive. I understand that. But it was so different. And I played this out in other scenarios and gosh, if my other doctors would react this way, I think it’s part of healing to be excited. Hey, how can we help you? How can we serve you? How can we make you better? How can we help you navigate this illness or pain or situation better? There’s something about an attitude that he had a bedside manner or an approach that I think it’d be just phenomenal for the healthcare world.
Rob Oliver: Okay, let me again highlight something that you said. All of what he said was about you. Right. How can we help you? What can we do for you? How do we serve you? And it wasn’t about him to say, Well, I can fix, I can do, I am the end all and be all of medical information. Can you just talk about that for a little bit? The feeling that comes from being excited and being focused on you and serving you.
Scott Ballard: Yeah. So it’s a feeling of really deep care, like being really cared for before anything happened. I already felt that sense of caring, which is the beginning of that change to happen. Another thing that he did that was part of showing carrying is he was wearing jeans and a pair of tennis shoes and basically like a Tshirt. And so it was very disarming. He didn’t have the white coat on. He didn’t whatever. He met me at where I was at, and he sensed that I had Xenophobia like that. I was afraid and I was very hesitant. So he came and met me at my level and then built the relationship and the care from them. And you pointed out it was all about me. It was never about him or any of that other than his excitement was, oh, I love these cases. I love what? And you’re kind of like, okay, I don’t know, but yeah, that part was super powerful.
Rob Oliver: Yeah, I can imagine. I guess I can only imagine that. But yeah, having him, I’ve been around people and it’s like I just learned and I think I’m repeating myself a little bit, but I just learned this new technique that I can perform on you. And in that way, the focus of the sentence is I and my technique and my knowledge, and you just happen to be the subject upon which I get to perform my magical skill, if that makes any sense at all.
Scott Ballard: No. 100%. And he continues to do that and approach that way. And he’s now become the person in our state to do this kind of work. Hospitals refer people to him. This whole practice now is built on referrals of these scenarios because of his putting the patient first attitude and approach it. And his whole team is that way, like all of them are about that.
What do you wish your medical providers understood about you?
Rob Oliver: Sure. Tell me, what do you wish your medical providers understood about you?
Scott Ballard: Well, number one in these situations, and maybe this is obvious, maybe it’s not that I’m afraid I’m concerned and not feeling well or healthy or having a problem is emotional. It’s real fear. And to approach somebody knowing that they’re afraid or hesitant or uncertain, and this is Shakening to their life, to who they are. And also, maybe they’ve had some bad experiences leading up to this meeting, to this situation for their health. I guess it’s just more human. And I know that it’s health care, but I think almost the care should come before the health. It’s like care, health care about me first and then get me a health solution or whatever. That’s what resonates with me is the human caring site.
Rob Oliver: Okay. So it’s funny. I did a presentation for the Pennsylvania Department of Health Care Equity, and the title of the presentation was Health patient care, because the patient needs to be in the center of health care. But we’re going to go with you, and it’s care patient health because the care comes before the health and the patient still needs to be in the center of all of that.
Scott Ballard: Yeah, 100%. And let me add this to you. Here’s why I love what you just said. Anybody in health care can care first. They don’t have to have a special education. They don’t have to be a certain kind of doctor. They don’t have to have certain trainings. We all, as humans can care first. Right. And I think that’s so powerful. And we don’t give it enough credit in the healing. We don’t give it enough credit for what it does for our patients, our people.
A suggestion for improving healthcare quality
Rob Oliver: Yeah. So very true. Okay, my last question for you is what is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?
Scott Ballard: Smile.
Rob Oliver: That’s simple. Just one word. Okay, here’s what I’m going to say. Tweetable moment for the entire world. Improve healthcare quality by smiling. I love it. Tell me more about that. What does that convey to you? How does that impact you and why does it make it higher quality?
Scott Ballard: Well, smiling is caring. Smiling says, I love you. I care for you. I acknowledge you. I see you. I hear you. I know you. It sends all the initial caring messages that healthcare is about. It embodies it without saying anything. It’s the perfect start to caring and doing that for people.
Rob Oliver: Okay. A very powerful statement. I love it. Scott, tell me. Just sorry. I’ve got a… Perfect I was just trying to make sure that I have the right information… if you were to sum up all of your experiences, because you’ve got… and if you don’t mind, you and I have talked before and you’ve got some other healthcare issues that are going on as well. Can you talk a little bit about the entirety of your experience, not just the experience that you’ve had recently with the dentist, but then kind of like the lifelong experience? Can you talk about that briefly, please?
A conversation about dyslexia
Scott Ballard: I would assume you’re talking about my Dyslexia.
Rob Oliver: If you don’t mind.
Scott Ballard: No. 100%. I’d love to talk about it. Cut me off if I go too long or stop me or whatever. So at a young age of seven in first grade, back in the realized that I wasn’t reading and writing like the other kids a year or two into that the educational system at that point just basically said I was stupid and I’d never be anything. They didn’t know how to diagnose it, Celestia they didn’t know what to do about it. But thank God, some people intervened. A person came that really was able to help me. So I started getting help with that healthcare help because they didn’t even know what it was at that point back when I was eight, nine years of age. And this was a specialist, Mrs. Slaymaker, that was on the cutting edge of helping kids with learning disabilities. And with that becomes physical disabilities, discordination, disorientation, hearing problems, visual problems. So I had a myriad Rob, you know, this I had a myriad of health problems. And so my whole life I have been in search for solutions to these problems, to these challenges that I’ve had right in that what I found, that the people that have really made the difference are the people that not only saw me as a person, but saw the opportunity to not only help me but also learn so that they could help somebody else with similar situations to the point of in my late 50s finally getting what I would call a full release from all of the symptoms and the problems surrounding my dyslexic life for the first 55 years.
Rob Oliver: Okay. Excellent. Scott, listen. Thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate you helping me to hopefully break this record and I appreciate and respect your perspective on health care. I’ll see you, my friend.
Scott Ballard: See you later, Rob.
Rob Oliver: Thanks. Bye.
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Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.