How the events of the last 12 months have impacted doctor’s behaviors and decisions in private practice.

Lately, my most enjoyable consulting time spent with my clients has given me cause to look back on all the events in private practice during the last year. Lots of what I first wrote about in “Practice by Design” (Miami 2007) “Commanders of Change™” (Marina Del Rey 2008) and Impeccable Systems” (Boston) 2009 has come to pass.
Future Shock is here, and as Toffler observed, may very well be modern mans most serious psychological affliction. Now, we are on the verge of a major dismantling of the doctor patient relationship by politicians and the greatest victory for health insurers, ever.Doctor
Two years ago members recently so poignantly asked me ”John, you keep talking about all the changes. What do you mean, and what’s happening?” Now, it’s all self evident.
So what I thought I would do is summarize how the events of the last 12 months have impacted doctor’s behaviors and decisions in private practice. Don’t read any further if you want sugarcoated op-ed. This is not it.
The most striking thing I warned doctors about was that unless you the Doctor clearly handle finances in private practice (no, its not like the ER), patients are gone, especially in the scared and frightening media driven economics for so many of those we serve. In essence, you need to be crystal clear, and also priced for the realities of your own future! Are you serving humanity to the best of your abilities, and at the same time selling higher tiers of care to those who want and will gladly pay in full? Not everyone wants or needs a Rolls Royce, but they still make and sell plenty of them.
Patients are no different, when unique service is needed. And wanted. Help give them their health back, teach them how to maintain it, and it’s the greatest gift ever.
Literally, they get their lives back!
These are the harsh realities of practice today. It’s not the latest “let’s see what I can max on an insurance case” that some still are advocating. Unless you like audits and recovery efforts by insurance carriers.
Unfortunately, way too many Doctors still fall miserably short as professionals (because of their thinking) in this regard and wind up stressed out, unrewarded, and sometimes out of practice.
The next big thing certainly is not staying in close, regular contact with past patients, and all your referral colleagues. Especially when the economy tanks. Costs rise, and you could, like many foolish business today cancel marketing and self improvement/personal growth expenditures. You may erroneously ration to stop marketing to those who have seen you before and refer to you every month, because it might cost you 1000-2000$/month to do so, (even though you might generate 10k-20k more/month!).
The next biggie is continuing to staff the practice like you are the UAW. I guarantee, no ones going to be there to bail you out.
Don’t get me wrong. Excellent staff that help drive the practice are worth every dollar. But are you sacrificing your own future because of poor or antiquated decisions or just not handling willful non-compliance?
And what about your current staffing HR Systems? Have you made these as bullet proof and compliant as possible? Or painted a big Bulls Eye on your office door?
What too many doctors will also need to fully develop and integrate is their information and data management systems into autopilot style marketing. This includes a powerful web presence now not an option in any area.
Just ask your next new patient where they found out about you, and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
Another huge issue I see is that too many doctors do not realize that our current economy is the best time to build a practice! Yes, that’s right! Weaker practices have been shaken down.
I am reminded of a doctor’s call earlier this year who needed an associate quickly, because several offices in his are closed, and he was seeing all their former patients!
Finally change is perpetual. This year is such an extreme but powerful example. Your practice as a business is no different.
That’s why our company has added several new learning products, an entirely new website, elaborate web based management software, six new core modules to our coaching programs, print on demand newsletter services, 24 hour call center, digital media patient education files, done for you newspaper advertising, etc., etc.
We also introduced several new patient specific care programs in the practice that are allowing us to help patients we previously had to refer, or simply could not help fully.
My team and I did this all within the last several months, while testing these along side our current systems in our private practice everyday.
As it should be in your practice too, the strong will thrive and prosper.
But it will take an entirely new set of management, operational and marketing skills.
If you’re up to the challenge, I welcome the opportunity to help you build your perfect practice.
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