Here is a short summary of how I was able to create an incredibly lean practice:
• I stopped filing insurance which relieved me of having to work on credit (perform a service but don’t get paid until down the road) I have a direct pay practice which means that I get paid when I see a patient. Every patient. Every time.
• I dramatically reduced my overhead expenses by letting go of all of my staff (I personally respond to every e-mail, phone call, fax, and regular mail that I get).
• I started utilizing many different software tools (Evernote, Avado, Grasshopper, Club Ready, Aweber, others) and programs to help me stay organized, efficient and on top of all my clinical care and business practices.
• I provided tremendous value for my patients and relied on word-of-mouth to grow my practice (without new patients coming in to my practice, it would be difficult to go from an insurance based practice to a direct pay practice).
• I absolutely love and enjoy refining my practice to make it more efficient and more valuable to each patient.
This last point is what I want to discuss right now, because without truly enjoying the process of running a practice, the work and grind of it all can be overwhelming.
Let’s face it, as private practice physicians, we are a dying breed. We are leaving the private practice setting and heading to the hospital or the corporation. It is
safer easier to practice over there.
But I am here to tell you that over here where medicine and healthcare are the front line is the very best place to be. We do not need to surrender our practices and submit to the notion that outpatient, private practice medicine is too expensive and too difficult to manage. But the very fact of it all is that if you really want to thrive in private practice, you have to make your practice as lean as possible. Expenses are way too high and reimbursements way too low for your practice to be anything but lean.
The key component to creating a lean practice is joy. If you truly want to have a thriving practice (and who doesn’t?) then you have to shift your mentality and attitude about how your practice is run. We can no longer rely on the advice that schedule and coding improvements will pave the way for financial success.
No, in order to do that, you must align your clinical and business practices together. They are not two separate entities, but one united practice service that you provide. So the way you go about running your practice behind the scenes very much affects the way your practice is viewed by your customers (patients).
If you do not find joy in uniting these seemingly two separate aspects to health care, then for sure, it will be a struggle for you be successful. Running a lean business takes discipline but it has many rewards. Managing a lean practice requires you to tweak and adjust policies on the fly, but doing so comes with so many benefits.
My main point today is to tell you this straight up: The more you enjoy the tweaking and adjusting, the more you find happiness in working your systems, the more you find meaning in the everyday managing of your patients, and the more successful you will be.
Running a practice is not what we learned in medical school or residency. And as such, it is easy to ignore the business side, choosing to focus on just the clinical side. But the reality is this: The new economy that is hinged upon short attention spans, information overload, and digital influence will forever change how our patients perceive medicine and healthcare.
As such, you can no longer ignore the business aspect of your practice. To help push private practice into a new frontier filled with higher incomes, more job satisfaction, and better patient outcomes, you have to enjoy the process of making your practice as lean as possible.
The status quo is not working any longer. Our patients demand more out of us but the current system is no longer rewarding us for our hard work and determination. It can be easier to throw in the towel, pack up shop, and move over to the hospital or the corporate world to be a salaried physician.
Far better and more rewarding, I feel, to create a lean practice and truly bring value to your patient experiences. They go hand in hand. The more you enjoy this, the more success you will have. And the more success you have, the better your practice becomes. Simple? For most doctors, the answer is no. But for the physicians who are willing to make change, the answer is yes.
Come back next week for the last segment of my lean practice series to learn how I turned everything upside down and why that has paid off tremendously!
Find out more about Craig Koniver and our other Practice Notes bloggers.