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How Medical Practices Can Embrace, Not Fear, Change


Medical practices shouldn't be afraid to innovate in order to take advantage of the opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act.

Innovation occurs daily in healthcare, from technological solutions streamlining communication to new drugs treating chronic diseases.

But when it comes to medical practices themselves-much like a lot of businesses-the fear to do things differently can result in stagnant operations and actually hurt your business, said speaker and author Jeremy Gutsche at the opening session of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday (Oct. 11) night.

But, Gutsche added, healthcare has a "weird opportunity" right now. The "forced change" of the Affordable Care Act brings opportunities to medicine as a whole and the practices who deliver patient care.  The challenge, he added, is taking the risk involved with change to create these opportunities, a scary proposition when your business involves the health and well-being of individuals.

"Almost all innovation happens by making the connection between fields people don't realize," Gutsche said. He told attendees to look outside healthcare, and stop doing both what they’ve always been doing and what others are doing, to see real change.

Through several business analogies, ranging from the rise of Victoria's Secret to the fall of Blockbuster Video, Gutsche detailed several occurrences when taking a chance or evolving an idea led to failure for some, but success for those that could see past the norm, to something better.

He urged attendees to escape the "traps" of the farmer-being complacent, repetitive, and protective- and instead adopt the instincts of the hunter- being insatiable, curious, and willing to destroy. The latter three principles fuel Gutsche's company and website, Trend Hunter, which collects cutting edge ideas from around the world from thousands across the globe to provide inspiration to others in fields ranging from technology to food to medicine.

And while medical practices may not discover the next big medical breakthrough or get EHRs to work flawlessly, Gutsche urged those working in medical practices nationwide to not be afraid to change something different in the way they work with patients, be aware of the numerous options facing a growing cadre of healthcare consumers, and adapt to the changing environment created by healthcare reform that is ever-developing.

"In healthcare, change can seem dangerous because there are patients involved," he noted. "This is not about the company [your practice], but saving lives, so if you are doing that [you may ask]: Why change?"

But the change doesn't need to be wholesale, Gutsche said, it can start with one step, one change, and one innovation behind your practice doors to get things rolling.

"I'm not trying to convince you to be 100 percent different," he said. "I want you to be 10 percent [different]."

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