Problem Solving At Your Medical Practice: How to Find a New Approach

November 2, 2013

Exploring a problem or initiative with a new perspective can reveal a better way of accomplishing tasks.

According to Einstein, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.  So, why are we surprised that we get the same result when we approach the same problem with the same point of view and expectation each time?

I recently experienced the benefits of taking on a project with a completely new perspective. The project had to do with billing, and I had little experience in the particular area it was focused on.

Many people gawked at my approach and didn't want to listen when I tried to explain my plan of attack.  They thought for sure the project would fail.

In the end, I created a whole different - and successful - revenue cycle approach.

If you're stuck seeking a solution to a problem, or if you can't seem to create better results on a particular initiative, I recommend trying a different approach. Here's how:

• Drop the thinking that something must be done one way because that is how it has always been done.  As soon as you lay down that bag-of-bricks, you will start to see that there is always more than one way to accomplish a task. 

• Be creative.  Sit down with your staff and brainstorm ideas.  Nothing should be off limits.  You will be so surprised to find very viable solutions to problems you have been having for years. Do you drive to the store the same way every time?  Probably not.  Then why is there only one way to approach your billing cycle?  There's not.

• Decide on a hard goal today.  Put that goal out front and work backwards.  I know this seems counterintuitive, but it really works.  Someone asked me once about having writer's block.  I told them my secret is to write the conclusion first and then formulate the story going backwards.  It's a creative way to break that barrier. 

For instance, if you want a 15 day DSO (days sales outstanding), put that goal five months out and formulate all of the steps you need to take to get there. The steps could include billing out the same day the patient arrives at the clinic; following up on claims more than 30-days old; and posting monies as soon as they arrive. Assign each task a due date and move on to the next task. Your DSO will shrink rapidly, and within your five months you'll have reached your goal. 

• Be diligent. When exploring a new tactic, you might encounter a lot of pushback from others. Don't give up!  It takes a lot of diligence to stick to your guns but it's worth it in the long run. Have the courage to try. You won't be sorry!