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Gauging Your Practice’s Hormone Levels (Part I)


I think practices act a lot like individuals and therefore are influenced in the same manner as hormones influence us.

Certainly we can relate to businesses by the way they make us feel. The great brands do this easily and quickly. There are a lot of analogies to business and mood, but I have not seen many analogies to hormones. But since hormones are so influential in the way we feel and since every medical practice is run by people, this is a valid analogy. I think practices act a lot like individuals and therefore are influenced in the same manner as hormones influence us. Here are some examples of the most influential hormones:

1. Cortisol: The big, bad stress hormone dictates our perception of stress in our world. Cortisol release is initiated from any stressful event. Cortisol is like the sun: rising in the morning and setting in the evening. Too much cortisol at the wrong time (night time) is bad as it blunts growth hormone and melatonin production. Too little cortisol (in the morning) is difficult as we need cortisol to help us get up, do what we need to do and function. Nowadays we are mismanaging our cortisol from our perceptions of stress (sitting in traffic, being late to a meeting, going too long in between meals) and some dysfunction of cortisol results.

This leads to us feeling tired, fatigued, and with brain fog. We gain weight, we become unmotivated.

This same process occurs on the organization level. Our practices open in the morning and close in the evening focusing on patients and services while the office is open. But due to inefficiencies and putting out fires, our practices can struggle with maintaining the flow of this rhythm. Medical practices that are out of touch with their own perceptions of how patients perceive the services and products purchased remain ineffective at communicating. This leads to more stress and an overall imbalance in how the practice interacts with patients.

Having too little cortisol in the morning makes it difficult for practices to gain momentum to get the business day off to a good start. Having too much cortisol at the end of the day tends to create havoc leaving employees frazzled and not feeling ready to disconnect from the end of their day. Maintaining a healthy cortisol rhythm in the office is critical to keeping the office flowing forward.

2. Testosterone: The most significant male hormone; testosterone helps us maintain lean muscle mass, improves our memory and focus, and gives us energy. When men have low testosterone they tend to get depressed, irritable, and edgy. When women have low testosterone, they have difficulty concentrating, tend to gain weight, and have difficulty with energy. Of course, testosterone is seen as the libido hormone, and while that is true, it certainly is more complicated than this.

On the practice level, low testosterone comes across as having employees who cannot make decisions and who tend to follow and not lead. Missing from the practice is a sense of confidence resulting in staff afraid to take risks and feeling more comfortable with the status quo. Many, many medical practices fall into this category.

On the flip side, we also see how too much testosterone can be troublesome for practice staff: argumentative, not able to communicate well, interested only in how they appear, etc.

3. Progesterone: This is the most important female hormone helping women to feel balanced, calm, and grounded. As progesterone declines, women tend to feel more irritable and tend to get headaches and feel anxious. Women with low progesterone also have great difficulty sleeping. Progesterone is the first hormone to decline for women, declining for many women in their 30s. A healthy progesterone level is critical to a woman feeling well.

In medical practice, low progesterone manifests as mass frenzy. No sense of calm, no grounding. Disarray comes to mind. Disorganization. Restlessness. We all know practices that feel this way. There is no sense of flow, everything becomes a frenzied mess. Patients feel this disaray and don’t like that feeling.

4. Thyroid hormone: For the most part, the thyroid hormone controls our metabolic rate. Low thyroid is so common these days manifesting as brain fog, weight gain, hair thinning, cold extremities, etc. Hyperthyroidism is rarer and manifests as the exact opposite.

I tend to think that practices also tend to be lower in thyroid than hyperthyroid. These practices seem like they are moving in slow motion, not able to get from point A to point B. Maybe they are slow to ship and slow to respond to questions. There is uniform sluggishness about the entire business. It is as if they are stuck in quick-dry cement and can't move.

Now you have the context for next week in which I will provide Part II: How you can manage your practices better by balancing the business hormones. Stay tuned.

For more on Craig Koniver and our other Practice Notes bloggers, click here.

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