It’s Your Future - Own It!

April 10, 2008
Judy Capko

I hear lots of griping these days about what’s wrong with medicine and how bad things are.

I hear lots of griping these days about what’s wrong with medicine and how bad things are. What’s happening to you guys anyway?

No, practicing medicine today is far from perfect, but maybe, just maybe, your expectations are a little unrealistic. Physicians and practice managers who lament the past or get stuck singin’ the “practice blues” need to get past the negatives and strive to make positive changes for the sake of their own futures.

So how do you do that? Put your best foot forward. Focus on what you do well. Smart businesses build on their successes, and guess what? You are a business! Concentrate on what you do best; patient care.

Fine tune your practice by following these simple rules:

  • Put the patient first. Make sure your patients feel they are your top priority. Everyone in your practice should greet patients, not just the receptionist. This small courtesy is important to your patients and takes just a minute of your time. So when you pass a patient in the hallway, acknowledge her with a simple smile and a “hello.”

  • Staff members should tell patients what to expect. When a patient arrives at your office, have the front desk staff give her an estimate of how long she can expect to wait. When rooming a patient do the same thing. It’s very disconcerting to be disrobed and waiting in an exam room without a clue how long it will be before you see the physician. When the patient visit is complete, ask “Have I answered all your questions?” or “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” It’s a good idea to do this when ending a phone call as well.

  • Keep attuned to performance. Follow your numbers on a monthly basis. Monitor new patient visits, charges, receipts and adjustments, accounts receivable, and expenses. And watch that overtime; if it’s inching up that’s an indication of management problems. When your numbers aren’t what they should be, take decisive strategic action. This may mean you need to dig deeper to find the root cause. But it’s the first step in taking positive action to improve your practice and make the best of what you have.

Don’t get trapped in a “woe is me” culture that feeds negativity and stifles productivity and growth. Keep your eye on the practice, and you’ll know when to take strategic action. It’s your future, so make the most of it.

Judy Capko is a healthcare consultant, speaker, and author of the popular books “Secrets of the Best Run Practice, 2006” and “Take Back Time, 2008.” Her focus is practice operations and strategic planning with emphasis on patient-centered strategies and valuing staff contributions. She is a popular speaker at national and regional conferences. Judy is the owner of Capko & Company, www.capko.com, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and she can be reached at 805 499 9203 or judy@capko.com.