Four Issues Physicians Must Watch in 2015

January 24, 2015

Here are four issues that doctors and their medical practice staff members need to be aware of to operate a great practice this year.

The New Year has begun and many physicians will attempt numerous methods to be more efficient and operate a stable and thriving practice. With constant changes in health laws, insurance, and competition, there is much to do and so little time. So what are some items that doctors and their staff need to be aware of to operate a great practice in 2015?

The Age of Convenience
We have entered into a new phase of patient convenience. The proliferation of the Internet has enabled patients to discover all types of information. Patients desire fast, free, friendly, and local urgent-care centers and clinics, and that has taken a small bite out of patient volume.

One method of ensuring sustainable patients despite this challenge is with proper patient experience and overall customer service. Patients today desire trusting relationships with doctors and they venture to other clinics because the current service they receive might be poor. Doctors and staff must ensure that they can quickly accommodate patients, that patients are happy, and that they provide quick feedback to patients. Should you notice a drop in volume or other forms of attrition, you might use a “mystery shop” or survey to better understand the experience and make changes where needed.

The Age of Numbers
Ask any doctor and the patient volume is increasing annually. My cardiologist for example, is seeing more patients due to two large issues: a) The announcement last year about statins and b) The university that employs him is driving harder on key performance measurements.

However, at no time must quantity overshadow quality care. Your Hippocratic Oath states that your meaning in life is to cause no harm to the patient. To that end, ensure you practice good time management or have your office or practice manager help you better facilitate time with patients. Use electronic forms for new patients in order to alleviate waiting room time, pre–order patient records, and alter your office policy so that you have full disclosure of information for a patient's visit. Redundant appointments for the same symptom only delay treatment and waste tons of time.

Pain Management
In the age of self-diagnosis comes the age of self-treatment, and many patients are running not walking to many new pain management centers. These centers (as you know) administer a host of narcotics to ease pain. Even states such as Colorado are using marijuana to treat numerous maladies. Yet, you are the doctor, therefore you need take the lead in patient care and recommendations. The better the relationship you have with your patients, they less fishing they do behind your back.

Work–Life Balance
One of the things about medicine is that you can make a killing or it can kill you. You need to work your passion and not kill it from overwork. Too many doctors suffer from divorce and other issues because they do not have a life after work. And, many aren’t able to practice what they preach due to stress. The only way to “remain on your game” is to create a healthy active life beyond work. This requires you to delegate, honor lunch hours, and take breaks on a regular basis. Poorly managed stress and health will lead to burnout and apathy. We all know there are fewer doctors each year and more patients. Therefore, you need to ensure that you take care of you so that you can take care of them. When your life is more balanced, your diagnosis is better, your quality of care is better, and your practice is more efficient.