Turning Lessons Learned into Action at Your Medical Practice

January 18, 2014
P.J. Cloud-Moulds

Life lessons are all around us. When they happen in your practice, do you know how to identify them and apply what you've learned?

We've all done it; some of us have even been caught doing it. Driving faster than the posted speed limit that is. I remember my first ticket, I was going 48 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. It was a steep downhill slope, but it doesn't really matter, I was speeding. That is my only ticket, as I learned something that day. I was taught a lesson, and I took that lesson to heart.

Every day is full of lessons to be learned, if only we would pay attention to them. Lessons present themselves in various forms throughout the day. We make conscious and unconscious decisions every second, resulting in some type of action. Are you going to run that yellow light just as it is turning red? What if that jogger on the corner stepped off of the curb one second sooner than she should have and you ran that light? There are so many opportunities presenting to you to see these lessons. Here are some thoughts about identifying these in your medical practice:

If you had a patient that came in for her appointment, and during the 30-minute visit had a bad experience and left angry, wouldn't you want to know why? Don't shrug your shoulder and say, "Wow what a cranky person!" Perhaps there was an interaction with a staff member that did not go so well, or she did not want to pay for the visit because she did not understand that her deductible started over for the year. Maybe she was just having an off day. It's worth it to find out if there was anything wrong with the service provided by your staff, or if more patient education is in order. Those are easy fixes, and should not be brushed off or ignored.

Did you receive a denial from an insurance company? Don't ignore it, or just accept that is "part of the healthcare industry life." Find out why. Make a list of the denial types, and then modify your process to stop those denials from happening. It's a lot easier than you think, and will immediately increase your inflow and decrease your accounts receivable within a few weeks.

Do you have a really good staff member that just seems to be getting more and more frustrated at their job? Rather than just accept that they want to quit and lose vital personnel, find out why. Perhaps there are some areas that need updating within your practice. Maybe this person has tried to bring these areas to a supervisor's (or your) attention, and still nothing has been done and nothing has changed. Change is inevitable, and a necessary part of professional growth. Enlist this person to help identify the true issues and have them help solve those issues. Your staff member will feel empowered and less stressed about their needs being ignored.

Many people avoid confrontation at all possible costs, and then wonder why there are problems in their business. If you are not comfortable being the person to tackle those issues head-on, hire someone who can. It's so important to find out why something is happening. It makes it a lot easier to resolve the issue in a much more appropriate manner. Once you realize the problem, you must apply a reactionary discipline to that realization. This can be as simple as a policy update, or how patients are entered into your software system.

When you go into work today, observe the areas that might need some much needed attention and see what you can learn today.