Physicians' practices are facing many compelling pressures today, from the transition to ICD-10 and complying with meaningful use initiatives to setting themselves up to operate under new reimbursement models. At the end of the day, though, most independent physician practices are just trying to see patients and stay afloat — focusing more on what's happening next week rather than next year. Amidst all the day-to-day activities and competing priorities, it may seem easier to respond to issues as they come up rather than take an intentional approach to practice management.
However, it's often said that failing to plan means planning to fail. Running a practice on-the-fly is a sure-fire way to miss opportunities, frustrate staff and patients, and limit financial viability. To avoid this, practice leaders must make a concerted effort to proactively manage — looking for ways to increase efficiency, enhance performance, and plan for change.
The following survival guide offers some key activities that can move a practice beyond reactive management and toward a tactical approach to optimizing business performance.
Step 1: Leverage your most valuable assets.
A practice's primary assets are its people, so leaders must make sure they are optimizing the skills and talents of their staff. To that end, you should closely review how tasks are assigned and delegated among clinicians and front-line staff, checking that every individual is performing necessary tasks that match her skill set. For example, there is nothing more frustrating for physicians than getting bogged down with a to-do list that prevents them from practicing at the top of their licenses. In fact, all members of the team should practice to the top of their license.
In order to avoid this, ask questions such as:
• Is there a way to use technology to automate certain activities and free up time for more direct patient care?
• Can we limit steps in a process so that the function runs more smoothly with less waste?
• Are there things physicians are currently doing that a nurse practitioner, medical assistant, or an administrator could just as easily do?
By taking a closer look at staff utilization and job function, organizations can create efficiencies, ensure reliability, and reduce organizational friction and stress.