We started the year with discussing the employment policy and liability basics to address in the first 30 days of the year. That piece, the first of a 12-part series that will appear the first Tuesday of every month, will give you a place to start addressing the most commonly overlooked blind spots of practice owners and managers in a logical, manageable way.
As medical practice and healthcare in general becomes more onerous and complex it’s easy to get up in process and systems, two vital but incomplete ingredients in any successful endeavor. Another key ingredient I’ve seen with the successful physicians and practices I work with is the desire to grow as leaders and plan, improve, and set goals. Here are some resolutions to help direct your energy and identify areas to improve. Your list may be different, longer, or shorter, but the key is the same: intention.
1. I will keep more of every dollar I make. As reimbursement continues to drop and compliance, overhead, and liabilities continue unabated, cash flow and profit margins need to be examined more closely than ever. Look for inefficiencies in all your recurring costs and take steps like cost segregation and energy efficiency studies and advanced tax planning for both your business and yourself. Find ways to get paid more, faster. This means everything from investing in EHR software that reduces staff time demands and increases accuracy to the use of billing consultants and practice efficiency reviews. You no longer have the option of giving away any extra portion of every dollar you are actually able to collect.
2. I will look at my practice like business. Many doctors forget that the longevity of their care and practice relationships can actually be supported and improved by running their practice with great, efficient business practices. I’ve had too many conversations with doctors who feel that delivering great medical care conflicts with running a medical practice like any other good, profitable business. But that’s just not the case. Think of your practice like any big national business that you frequent: a restaurant, store, service chain, whatever. What do most of your favorites have in common? They are successful, busy, and consistent in the scale and quality they deliver. They have the resources to train their staff, maintain their facilities, and do it right every time, then think of ways to make it better. Now think about the last few times you left a business unhappy, perhaps because it was a slow understaffed restaurant, a store that didn’t have the merchandise, or the impression a place was run down or dirt. These are businesses that are cutting corners and will likely not succeed in any manageable way. Which of those experiences are you and your staff delivering in this increasingly competitive marketplace?
3. I’ll be nice. OK, I’ll get more specific, but as an attorney I can tell you that many issues that end business relationships come down to someone, on some level, conscious or not, getting their feelings hurt. It could be a patient, an employee, a partner, even a vendor. Take a moment to think about the role each of these people plays in you success and be genuinely grateful and let them know. I’m also amazed at how many adults with great manners drop those formalities in the workplace under the mistaken idea that they are being “efficient.” There is always time for saying “please” and “thank you” and to genuinely appreciate the labors and efforts of those who work both with and for you. The Golden Rule is true nowhere more than in the workplace, and communication with your team, however you define that, will make your practice happier, healthier, and safer from both a liability and profitability standpoint.
4. I’ll enjoy it all more. I work with too many successful people who are so focused on success that they don’t take time to enjoy the fruits of their labors, many even feel guilty for doing so. You could work less and with less stress, earn less and go without many of the luxuries you and your family likely take for granted. Take the time and resources to enjoy your labors, your family, and your friends and devote some resources, including your carefully guarded time, to care for yourself and your health and sanity.