In medicine, spontaneous change isn’t encouraged. And for good reason. Life is at stake. Change is only encouraged when there has been plenty of scientific evidence to support the change.
For example, new AAP recommendations/guidelines, treatments, screenings, clinical protocol and vaccines? We’re okay with implementing these changes. Retail based clinics intruding on our turf, disrupting “our” medical home model? Unacceptable.
Vaccine pricing increases… Facebook… Yelp, Healthgrade.com…ICD-10… high-deductible plans, unwelcome.
Apples and oranges?
You might say this isn’t a very good comparison. You may be thinking that adopting new guidelines from the AAP or adjustments to the vaccine schedule based on the CDC’s recommendations is not the same as MinuteClinics “stealing” patients or negative – unfair – reviews on Yelp.
I’d argue they are the same based on the premise that all of these changes – whether medically driven or market driven – challenge our practice’s status quo.
We’re in a unique position
One of, if not the biggest, challenge we have to manage, is the tug of war between being clinical providers and business owners. On one hand, medicine is about people’s health. Therefore medicine should not be influenced by market-forces, financial and economic influences, or consumer trends. Medicine is driven by science and patient care.
On the other hand, private pediatric practices are businesses just like a car-wash is a business, just like a dry-cleaners is a business, just like Microsoft and Apple is a business.
This means private independent pediatric practices are not sheltered or protected from market-forces or trends that challenge and potentially disrupt the businesses.
If we are in business, then let’s be in business.
The business world – the non-primary care business world – not only accepts changes, but they embrace it. At least the ones that want to survive or that have survived.
Change demands from them to find new ways to adapt, create, meet and resolve the new challenges. Change also gives them motivation to remain competitive.
Episode On How We Embraced Change
A few years ago, a large, well established pediatric practice, opened shop right next door, literally. We were so upset when we found out.
We wanted to call the landlord and complain to them about how unfair it was to rent space to a pediatric practice next door. Why couldn’t they find an OB practice?
We didn’t call or complain, much. But here is what we did.
We assembled the team to brainstorm ways we could keep our competitive advantage. We asked ourselves, how could we improve? What areas of our practice could we enhance? What did we do really well? What didn’t we do so well? Could we provider a better experience? How so?
We made several changes. For example, there was a renewed commitment towards providing unsurpassed medical service from our staff. We decided to open early and close later than the practice next door. On our website, we highlighted a couple of our ancillary services (i.e. VEP) and our extended hours. We also began to stagger lunch breaks so that we wouldn’t have to close for lunch.
The market rewards those that change
Looking back, the pediatric practice moving next door actually made us a better practice. Without them, disrupting our status quo, we would have remained complacent. And complacency doesn’t drive advancement, growth, or progress.
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