Here’s a notion from the natural world: there’s safety in numbers. Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. But why is mass behavior safer? Apparently because having many eyes allows for earlier threat recognition and herds offer dilution of danger to individuals within it. Even in humans, research has shown that having a posse around changes perceived threat.
I really believe that this concept fueled a group of old college friends, now Dads, to schedule an en masse vasectomy visit with me during March Madness. It began with their calls from around the country and bookings for vasectomies on the same day, a particular Friday afternoon in March. In response to this group think behavior, I closed the practice to other traffic for that afternoon, and allowed them to take over the whole space on their big day, the day they got their wings clipped. Basketball was piped into the flat screen TV, and we had bags of frozen peas at the ready.
One by one, they walked into the procedure room, and then walked back to join the others sprawled out and lounging in the reception area. Remarkably, as the afternoon progressed, the team support was palpable and characterized by hoots, hugs, fist pumps and high fives, until all the damage was done. It’s amazing how empathy can bring people together. And then they all hobbled out of the office, as if leaving the stands after a great ball game, and spent the weekend in a hotel.
As they left this group snip session, I asked myself: “I wonder how they’ll do.” What I learned over the ensuing weekend really taught me something about men and teams. I follow patients daily for several weeks after procedures using an app called HealthLoop, kind of like a digital house call system. Works great. Unobtrusive, confidential and convenient. I ask patients to check in with me online daily and inquire about how things look and how things feel. They fan get their questions answered too. It taps into and engages men like I have never seen before. And, since I follow them on a dashboard, responses can be measured.
They all did great. Every single one of them. They took fewer pain pills, felt better faster and returned to work earlier than the average, go-it-alone-out-on-the-plank, tube tied patient. Maybe there’s more than just safety in numbers, like good ‘ole arm-in-arm reassurance. Just thinking out loud here, in case you’re considering taking that jump shot for the family during March Madness…