As 2015 approaches, many physicians are wondering what new changes are headed our way. We've seen what feels like a gazillion different changes to the Affordable Care Act. At times, it can feel hard to firmly plant your feet on such unstable ground. However, we must remember we can only manage what we can manage. We mustn't worry about that which we cannot control. We should concentrate our energies on those areas of our practice that will support our ultimate goal of exemplary patient care. I believe I am the one responsible for doing everything I can to maximize my revenue. This can be accomplished by focusing on specific areas of my practice, or what I call the four P's of exemplary patient care:
1. People. The first area I focus on is people. Ask yourself, "Do we have the right people in the right jobs at the right time?" We should hire "A" players and coach or train "B" players to "A" performance. Healthcare is a service industry and it is the people of our clinic that deliver the care. If we want to deliver the best care, then we must hire and train the best people we can find.
2. Productivity. I focus on the work flow of our people. Do they have what they need to be most effective and efficient in delivering patient care? Does the practice's IT solution help or hinder them? Are we making choices simply to satisfy a checkbox on someone's list? Or, are we making decisions that benefit our people and ultimately our patients? We should be constantly monitoring and changing the practice work flow to maximize the care we provide.
3. Performance. Exemplary performance is about delivering the right care to the right patient at the right time. How often are we able to get the right diagnosis? How much time are we spending sorting out the data? Do we really need all the data? Most importantly, is the patient satisfied with the care we have delivered? Do they feel important and valued by each one of the staff members that interact with them?
Our compensation will slowly begin to reflect these very important questions over the next few years. As "transparency" begins to evolve in the marketplace, patients will know what we charge for services. That doesn't really matter as much as the perceived value of what patients are receiving for that fee. Our people and systems should work together to ensure we have a high performing practice that is capable of delivering exemplary patient care.
4. Profitability. Earning a profit isn't evil or bad. In fact, it is a necessity. How long can the doors be kept open if the practice is losing money? How many patients can be cared for when the practice closes? Can quality compassionate care be delivered if the people of the practice are struggling because there aren't financial resources available to support them in doing their job?
It is my responsibility to ensure I take control of my practice and its performance. My goal is to provide exemplary patient care. If I focus on the four P's, control those aspects of each area that I can control and effect change in, I will be able to ensure my income will remain stable, if not grow. The value I offer the public and my patients is completely dependent upon the four P's. Having a model like this makes me less concerned about coming changes and more empowered as I look to the future.
David J. Norris, MD, MBA, CPE is an anesthesiologist at Wichita Anesthesiology Chartered in Kansas, the owner of the Center for Professional Business Development, as well as a member of the Physicians Practice Physician Advisory Board.
What strategies do you use to maximize your compensation? Tell us at [email protected]. Unless you say otherwise, we'll assume that we're free to publish your comments in upcoming issues of Physicians Practice, in print and online.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2014 issue of Physicians Practice.