Are You Making These 5 Financial Mistakes In Your Medical Practice?

We know doctors don’t get finance or accounting training during the time they spend in medical school. As a result, they tend to rely heavily on practice managers, accountants and other financial experts with managing their money.

 

But as medical practice owners (aka small business owners), the buck stops with the doctor. Thus, it is wise not to rely blindly on the “experts” and from time to time take a look at areas of the business for yourself.

screen-shot-2016-03-26-at-11-33-49-amBelow are five areas I’m going to suggest for you to explore. Get acquainted with these suggestions. You never know. Overlooking them may be affecting your practice’s bottom line.

1 – PAYING HIGH-INTEREST RATE LOANS

Loans can be great financial tools to help practices remain liquid (aka have cash in hand) when cash flow is low or if an unexpected expense arise.

But practices that mismanage these loans can end up paying fees and interest that eat up what are already thin margins.

It is important to be aware that not all bank loans are created equal. Equally important is understanding terms – interest rates vary depending on the type of loan – and knowing concepts like the difference between a secured loan vs. a non-secured loan.

Overusing loans, not reevaluating them periodically and failing to adjust to current circumstances or failing to stay informed on interest rates are all things that can erode business’ income.

2 – OVERLOOKING HOW YOUR CREDIT CARD MAY BE CHARGING YOU INTEREST

Doctors love to credit cards to pay for practice expense. Why? For the credit card points, of course. A single doc can potentially accumulate six figures in points by paying for vaccines alone. Free airfare anyone?

Even though you may pay the balance in full every month, I suggest to look carefully at the card’s fine print first to understand how the credit card charges interest. Because some cards charge a daily interest based on the daily balance.

Let’s say you have a credit card that charges 10% monthly interest. But you’re not concern about the interest because no matter how much you charge the card in a month, you pay it off – in full – at the end of the month.

Banks are well aware of this. So to make money off people that pay their balance in full, they divide the monthly interest by 28 (cycle days). So a 10% monthly interest, the credit card will charge you .0357% daily on your balance.

3 – MAXING OUT CREDIT CARDS

Thirty percent of your credit score is based on how much of your available credit you are using. If the card is in your name, and you have cards maxed out, your credit score drops.

Low credit scores can be an issue, of course, when applying for a loan of any kind; high credit card balances often lead to denied applications.

Are you paying a higher interest rate on some of your credit cards because you carry high balances on others? It’s worth checkin.

4 – NOT PLANNING FOR A RAINY DAY

Most practices are tremendously unprepared financially for unforeseen circumstances. Partly because most, if not all, the money that comes into the practice is spent or distributed in full to each partner at the end of the year.

You don’t need to be around long to know the unexpected comes by often. Hence, the practice should always have a reasonable amount of money set aside because sooner or later you’re going to need it.

Not only is it crucial for your business to set money aside for financial emergencies, but it also is good business practice.

Not to mention that with cash reserves, instead of drawing from those high-interest loans or maxing out your credit card, you’ll have what I like to call a cushion fund for times when we need money to get us through a rainy day.

5 – NOT DRAFTING A PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT

I’ve seen this happen before. A few docs decide to quit their employment to start their medical practice.

The group aligns with the vision of serving patients better, the lure of sticking it to the man and the prospect of increasing their income.

The excitement of opening up your practice with friends or like-minded coworkers and everybody coming together towards a common cause often puts the task of drafting a partnership agreement on the back burner.

Don’t delay a partnership agreement. In fact, do it as soon as possible. Here is why:

a) It’s the wise thing to do.

b) It is better to work out details when everybody tends to be happy excited and looking forward to the future than to work out the details during a nasty, vicious divorce.

Drafting a partnership agreement when you are angry, resentful, feel duped or taken advantage of is… well, I don’t have to tell you it’s bad.

It is also important to review and update your agreement every few years with your attorney to ensure it reflects current circumstances.

 

 

Three Simple Questions To Help You Manage Disruptive Employee Behavior

Guest post by Brenda S. Campbell

One of the most challenging aspects of practice management is managing the people within the business. It can feel overwhelming to manage employee attitude, behavior and performance, especially if confrontation doesn’t come naturally.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 9.56.40 AMI have had the privilege of working for an amazing pediatrician for the last fifteen years. He’s been in practice for decades and has taught me so much about practice management, especially the “people” part.

He has helped me understand that it is possible to manage any employee behavior and expectations using a simple strategy.

When confronted with unsatisfactory employee behavior and performance, it is important to focus on three questions:

You send a message to the rest of the staff no matter how you handle the issue.

What’s the message you want to send?

If you choose to overlook the behavior, the message to your staff is that it is okay to continue this behavior and that it is acceptable.

If you address a behavior, it sends a message to everyone that the behavior is NOT okay and will not be tolerated. Often times, even though they may not say it, the staff appreciate that you address negative behavior.

For example, we had a telephone triage nurse who had a lot of experience, worked for us for several years and was solid in the advice she would give.

Her customer service skills, however, were lacking. I had to make a decision about the message I wanted to send to the rest of the staff.

What you allow is what will continue. Are you going to allow it to continue?

Make the decision to address the behavior and do it. Don’t put it off. Ask, “May I give you some feedback?” Let them know the problem with their behavior, set expectations and move on. They’ll either choose to correct their behavior or they won’t.

We’ve found that employees generally receive feedback in one of two ways. Some are completely unaware that their behavior was being perceived in a negative manner and are quick to ask how they can fix it.

The others become defensive and refuse to take ownership of the behavior often blaming external factors.

With our triage nurse, I knew that I needed to address her customer service problem, particularly her tone which could be perceived as condescending and snarky at times.

Her response fell in the defensive category and she said “somehow I get all the nasty parents on the phone.” I explained to her that she was the common denominator in each complaint and that her tone was the problem.

“Ma’am” is not necessarily respectful if delivered in a sarcastic manner. It was her behavior that made the parents become, in her eyes, “nasty”.

Are you better off with them or without them? Is it time to let them go?

If, after you’ve given the feedback and they have not changed their behavior, it’s time to make the decision about the employee’s future.

As you may have guessed, it didn’t take long for another parent to complain about the triage nurse and, at that point, we decided that even though we’d be down a phone triage nurse in a busy sick season, it wasn’t worth allowing negative behavior to continue thereby sending the wrong message to the staff.

We have found that when it comes to working with someone who behaves poorly or working short-staffed most employees would rather work a little harder until we find someone who is a good fit for our practice.

It’s certainly easier in the short term to ignore problematic employee behavior but it’s always costly in the end.

Allowing negative employee behavior to continue can hurt your employee morale, productivity and retention as well as cause you to lose patients. When we reflect on the occasions where we’ve had to let someone go after asking these three questions, we have yet to regret a single one.


Brenda Campbell is a practice administrator for The Pediatric Center at Frederick. You can check out her practice by clicking, here. She is a member of AAP’s subcommittee Pediatric Practice Management Alliance (PPMA). This article originally appeared in SOAPM’s Quarterly Newsletter.


 

Learn How To Create A Budget For Your Medical Practice

In medicine, the mention of the word profit is often viewed or interpreted as a dirty word. It is as if the word does not belong in the lexicon when health care is addressed.
 Broke doctor
I argue (in the context of the private medical practice setting) that profitability is a medical practice’s responsibility for one simple reason. If the medical practice (also known as a business) doesn’t deliver profits, health care providers are unable to provide for those in need.

Why Profits?

Profits pay for infrastructure, technology, education and human resources, all of which translate to superior pediatric care when employed correctly.
Another way I like to put it is by saying,

 

…a broke doctor does do anybody any good.

 

Calling vs Profits

Indeed, our medical businesses differ from other companies in that we care for children. And the notion of withholding medical services or restricting access to a sick child merely by the patient’s parents inability to pay for health care services is simply not in a pediatrician’s DNA.
However, it is important to accept the reality that without a way for a doctor or the practice’s income to outpace expenses, health care providers are unable to provide services of any kind. At least not for the long term.

Is there a solution?

How do we reconcile these two competing issues? On one hand, it is necessary for a medical practice to deliver profits if it wants to remain sustainable. On the other, we have an intrinsic motivation to put the patient’s needs first.
I am glad you asked.
These two dichotomies can co-exist – and even flourish – alongside each other. There is indeed numerous tools and principles rooted in business that can help medical practices manage what otherwise appears to be opposing forces.

A Resource You Don’t Want to Miss

Today, I want to tell you about a resource I’ve been working on to help your office obtain financial success, while simultaneously providing unsurpassed pediatric care to your patients.

To help you succeed in your financial success, I’ve written a comprehensive eBook on budgeting that walks you through the process of creating a budget for your medical practice. The materials also cover basic principles necessary to put the exercise into perspective.

Budgeting is a major component of financial success. Moreover, financial success is essential to the continuity of care.

To read more about this offering, click on the image below.

Medical Practice Budgeting
Click on the image

I do hope that you buy the book, but more important, that you find the eBook helpful, useful and valuable.

Is It Worth Being A Member Of The American Academy Of Pediatrics?

I asked a newly graduated pediatrician if she was going to renew her membership with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Her response did not surprise me. She said, “…probably not. I see no point in being a member.”

As far as she was concerned, there wasn’t an upside ( or value ) to belong to the Academy. I knew what she meant because I share her feelings.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 10.48.49 AMRecently I came across an email that challenged my stance regarding the value the American Academy Of Pediatrics provides to pediatricians.

I wanted to share the email just as I read it. Below are the unedited comments from Dr. Suzanne Berman and Dr. Christoph Diasio regarding the meeting.

I had the privilege of attending the 3rd Immunization Congress in Washington DC with some of your favorite SOAPM types: Rich Lander, Geoff Simon, Christoph Diasio, Drew Hertz, Joel Bradley and uber-awesome AAP staffers Lou Terranova and Elizabeth Sobcyzk.

We had an opportunity to describe what works and doesn’t work with pediatric vaccinations, and lessons that can be applied in the adult world (where they do not vaccinate like we do).

Rich Lander spoke eloquently about the need for calling it PAYMENT not REIMBURSEMENT and people listened!

He presented the business case for vaccines. For the whole rest of the time, people would start to say “reimbursement” and then caught themselves and said: I should call it payment! I need to update my slides!

Geoff Simon and Drew Hertz spoke about some of the practical aspects of immunization delivery in large health systems and the implications of alternate payment models in vaccine delivery.

Geoff also talked about the challenges of providing vaccines across state lines (PA/DE).

Joel talked about the need for VFC to turn on 90461 and the need for local Medicaid and VFC programs not to do their little unsupervised strange things.

Suzanne Berman, MD

Dr. Diasio chimed in and added this:

There’s so much the AAP in general, and SOAPM, in particular, does quietly in the background- it is important to share this.

I am sure it will surprise none of you that I was continuing to beat the drum for removing the VFC flu vaccine delivery disparity.

Suzanne is humble- her talk on “the stupid things insurance companies/Medicaid agencies do re: vaccine payment” was terrific and included descriptions of dysfunction that I had never heard!

We touched on 2D barcoding uptake, but this was more related to trying to fix registries and increase communications.

We did discuss trying to create incentives/funding for EMR companies to support barcode readers

Christoph Diasio, MD

I have been particularly vocal about the Academy’s presumably disregard towards the numerous challenges pediatrician face in light of the AAP’s recommendations and children’s advocacy initiatives.

When I read this, the first thought that came to mind was, I think I am misinformed. Then I thought, so are numerous pediatricians, like the newly grad I mentioned.

I then thought to myself, the word needs to get out. Pediatricians need to know what the AAP and committees such as the Section on Administration and Practice Management (SOAPM) are doing on behalf of pediatricians, not just children.

Reached out

I immediately emailed Dr. Suzanne Berman and asked her permission to publish her email. I then spoke to Dr. Christoph Diasio – SOAPM Chairperson – and also asked him if I could add his commentary.

They responded with a resounding:

NO WAY. NOT IN A MILLION YEARS.

I am kidding, I am kidding. It was the opposite. They replied within minutes saying yes.

Times are indeed tough

I am preaching to the choir when I say that independent pediatricians are facing difficult challenges. However, it is reassuring to know that people are working behind the scenes advocating for children by advocating for those that provide for children.

It is my understanding that highly influential people attended the meeting. There were high ranking AAP representatives as well as influential people from the CDC.

Thanks

So, not only did I want to inform those that are not fully aware of what type of initiatives their AAP membership dollars go to support, but also wanted to give a big thanks to all that attended the meeting and all those that worked behind the scenes.

Thanks for looking out for us. And keep up the good work.

For the rest of you, go and renew your AAP Membership.

The Value of Having Core Values

The airline passenger was upset with the flight crew. So she wrote a letter to the CEO to inform him she did not approve of how the crew was making jokes while doing the pre-flight safety checks.

In her letter to the CEO, she made clear that security announcements ought to be taken serious because of how important they were.

 

Airline Customer Service Values Core Values Business CultureAs it turns out, the passenger that wrote the letter was a frequent flyer of the airline. Surely a customer the airline wants to keep. Right? So how did the CEO respond?

“We’ll miss you” and added, “Rest assured that this company, like all good airlines, take safety very, very seriously.”

Most CEOs would have probably sent an apology letter saying things like it was not their intention to offend her; he’d look into to the matter; they value her opinion and appreciate her business. But not Southwest airline’s CEO.

What Can We Learn From The CEO’s Response?

There are many lessons in the Southwest story we can glean and apply to our practices. However, among the most valuable lesson for me, is the importance of having a set of defined core values.

Why Are Core Values Important?

Core values are used to establish a company’s guiding principles. They serve the distinct purpose of determining behavior and action.

Without core values, employees do not know what is right from wrong. Therefore, they have no choice but to make decisions based on their values. Which, of course, may or may not align with the company’s values.

However, when a business establishes them, they assist in determining the right path. Moreover, they give employees a reference in fulfilling business goals.

Southwest Airline’s Core Value

Embedded into Southwest’s company culture, is a set of core values. Here is how they define it for their employees:

We believe in Living the Southwest Way, which is to have a Warrior Spirit, a Servant’s Heart, and a Fun-LUVing Attitude.

No Apologies

For Southwest, working hard and playing harder is one of the company’s guiding principle. Fun is part of what the airline is all about. That is why the CEO did not apologize on behalf of the employees. The employees were embracing one of the company’s unwavering value.

Core Value For Salud Pediatrics

One of our practice’s cornerstone principles is profitability. This may seem obvious or inherent knowledge considering our practice is a small business.

But for us, profit is a core value because our financial gains are the driving force behind our ability to fulfill our mission to advocate and care for children in our community.

In other words, profitability is essential to our ability to provide health care services. Without it, we would not be able to stay open. Thus profitability is a responsibility to the community we serve, not merely a requirement for our business.

Prepared To Lose A Patient

Recently, a parent from our practice questioned our policy that requires patients to leave a credit card on file with our practice.

After explaining the reason for the policy and addressing her concerns about identity theft, the mom was still apprehensive.

I told her that her concerns were legitimate and that I understood where she was coming from, but that the policy was non-negotiable. I explained to mom that we felt so strong about the importance of the credit card policy, that we were willing to lose her family as patients.

Policies & Procedures vs. Core Values

We all have rules in place. Even Southwest, with their FUN-Luving attitude, has them. Going through the pre-flight safety announcements is one of many, I’m sure.

Having systems in place ensure efficiency and safety, among other things. But It is impossible to come up with a scheme for every single potential situation. There will always be situations that fall outside of the “policy.”

Core values, however, can be used in situations that fall outside the parameters of policies and procedures.

Does your practice have a core value statement?

If so, what does it say? Are you prepared to lose patients over it?

 


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4 Simple Questions That Will Make You A Better Manager To Your Employees

As practice managers and administrators of both large and small practices, we are wired not to see our failures but instead see the shortfall of our employees and attempt to correct them. Nothing wrong with that. It’s part of management.

But let me challenge you on this one. The next time you have difficulties with an employee, take a moment and reflect how you are interpreting the issue using the questions above. Consider where you are placing the blame. On people’s character or the circumstances?

As humans, we have an uncanny ability to justify and explain situations in ways that benefit us.  For example…

When we observe a father shouting, tugging or being overpowering towards their child, we raise an eyebrow and pass judgement on that parent’s poor parenting skills.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 10.45.48 AM

If we lose our temper with our kids, we justify it by blaming the circumstances. We’ll say, “if you knew how challenging my children are, you would understand.”

In a medical practice environment, it may go something like this.

Julie: Nancy is late again.
Michelle: That’s the way she is. She’s so disorganized.
Julie: I know. And she doesn’t take her job seriously.
Michelle: Bill has given her so many opportunities, but she seems not to get the message in that thick head of hers.

Let’s look at it from another viewpoint.

Julie: I’m sorry I’m late. It’s just that my car has been acting up. And with my husband being out of town, I have to get the 3-kids ready, drop them off at my mother-in-law’s house – you know she is still upset about that thing – and just as my luck will have it, there was a fender bender on Route 95 and traffic was backed up all the way to the freeway.

CHARACTER VS CIRCUMSTANCES

Medical practice managers and administrators tend to make similar judgements.

When we have an under-performing staff member, we question their work ethic, make claims about their lack of motivation, engagement or lack of interest. Simply put, we tend to judge their character.

When we fall short, we don’t dare blame our work ethic, lack of motivation or lack of interest. Instead we blame the circumstances.

For example, we’ll blame our underperforming employees, unreasonable parents, the healthcare system, insurance companies, the printer, the network, being overworked and our boss. She’s too demanding and has unrealistic expectations.

REVERSE

What if we reverse the tendency to blame circumstances when we fall short and blame people’s character faults when they make a mistake or underperform? What would it look like if you looked at your character when employees in your practice fall short?

To help you put all of this into perspective, think about a time in the practice when an employee was underperforming. Using that situation in mind, read and think about the four questions I’ve listed below.

1.- Am I measuring a fish by its ability to walk?

Everybody has their strengths, but if you place someone in an environment that is counter to their strengths, they will undoubtedly fail.

Before rushing to judgement, ask this question first. Have I done a disservice to the employee by placing them in a position that they are not naturally good at doing?

2.- Am I telling them instead of leading them?

The best leaders are not the best because of their title. The best leaders are remarkable because they have distinctive character traits. Thus, asking employees to think and see the way you think and see things is often unfair.

Instead of saying, why can’t they just… (they being employees) ask, have I led them?

Consider putting more efforts towards helping them understand – leading them – rather than expecting them to know.

3. – Am I assuming employees remember?

Just because you said it once, doesn’t mean it was heard or retained.

If an employee keeps overlooking necessary task for example, take pause and consider if the reason is that you have not made clear the importance of the tasks.

One important distinction to have present when reminding employees. It is more important to tell employees why their jobs matter than remind them how to do their jobs.

4. – What am I doing about it?

Some hires simply are not a good fit. Others don’t work out. You know that. The entire staff also knows that.

Keeping an employee around that doesn’t fit well into the culture, is disruptive, consistently underperforms, and makes mistakes despite coaching, is a failure of leadership.

In other words, an employee that is out of line is not necessarily your fault, but it is on you if they remain an employee of the practice.

As practice managers and administrators of both large and small practices, we are wired not to see our failures but instead see the shortfall of our employees and attempt to correct them. Nothing wrong with that. It’s part of management.

But let me challenge you on this one. The next time you have difficulties with an employee, take a moment and reflect how you are interpreting the issue using the questions above. Consider where you are placing the blame. On people’s character or the circumstances?

 

Does Your Pediatric Practice Need A Vision Statement?

A compelling vision strikes a chord in people, motivates them by tapping their competitive drive, arouses desire for greatness and hopefully appeal to their need to make a difference in the world.

Most vision statements I’ve read, are a bunch of fancy words put together in a somewhat coherent matter with the intent to demonstrate that the company or the business stands for something.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 4.40.10 PM

As a result, nobody pays attention to them.

WHY YOU NEED A VISION STATEMENT

When crafted correctly, a vision statement is enduring and inspirational. It’s a guiding, transformational initiative, that removes the clutter and sets a defined direction for the practice’s growth.

A proper vision statement illustrates the organization’s purpose… why the organization exists.

And that is why your medical practice should focus on writing a vision statement.

WHAT IS A VISION STATEMENT?

A vision statement is a desire for your private independent pediatric practice. Another way to look at it is what you want the practice to become. Some refer to it as the desired end-state. In other words, how things could be instead of what they are.

VISION STATEMENT EXAMPLES

The best visions are clear, concise, memorable and inspirational. Some of the best vision statements are from organizations in the non-profit sector.

Below I’ve brought along some of the best (IMHO) vision statements from non-profit organizations to help you visualize what one may look like for your practice. But also I think they provide insight into how just a few words can bring people together towards a common goal.

Feeding America: A hunger-free America
National Multiple Sclerosis Society: A World Free of MS
Alzheimer’s Association: Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s
Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Make-A-Wish: Our vision is that people everywhere will share the power of a wish.
San Diego Zoo: To become a world leader at connecting people to wildlife and conservation.
World Vision: For every child, life in all its fullness; Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so.
Cleveland Clinic: Striving to be the world’s leader in patient experience, clinical outcomes, research, and education.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
Boy Scouts of America: To prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.
Charity Water: believes that we can end the water crisis in our lifetime by ensuring that every person on the planet has access to life’s most basic need — clean drinking water.
Amnesty International: Amnesty International’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.

WHAT IS IN IT FOR THE PRACTICE?

When a practice’s vision is strong, it is easier for employees and stakeholders to absorb and commit themselves to the goals and the values of the practice.

A compelling vision strikes a chord in people, motivates them by tapping their competitive drive, arouses desire for greatness and hopefully appeal to their need to make a difference in the world.

Simply put, without a clear vision, strategic plans are plain marching orders on a piece of paper with no guiding principle or ideal to plan.

Simple Yet Effective Leadership Lesson You Must Learn If You Are A Practice Administrator

Medical practices don’t sell products, transport goods, develop software or produce widgets in a factory. Our businesses are all about people. Consequently, the only way to improve productivity or enhance performance is by getting better at managing people.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 2.01.20 PM

One day, his wife complained that in their 25 years of marriage, he had never told her that he loved her.

“I told you when we got married. I’ll let you know if it changes,” he replied.

Acknowledging staff members or affirming employees for a job well done doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m the kind of person that believes recognition isn’t necessary when someone does as expected.

YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO WORK HARD

For example, I’ve heard employees say, I worked hard for this company. This comment doesn’t deserve affirmation.

Why? Because the expectations is not to barely do mediocre average work. The expectation is that people work hard. Pronouncing you work hard is like a father publicly declaring he takes care of his kids.

WHEN IS TOO MUCH, TOO MUCH?

I also feel that if you praise a person for their good job often, the praise eventually loses value. Like the word thanks. It’s polite, but is one thankful every time we say thanks? So when I acknowledge someone’s behavior, character, work ethic, etc. it is because it truly exceeded expectation.

WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?

Here is the thing. As a member of the team (as opposed to the boss) I like to receive positive feedback. I like to get recognition, have someone acknowledge my work and accomplishments.

WE ALL NEED TO HEAR IT

I’m sure the wife in the story knew the husband loved her, but she needed to hear it from him. And just like the wife, people too need to hear from the person in charge words of appreciation even though they heard it once before.

The affirmation, praise, recognition, pat on the back (how ever you want to describe it) isn’t only for those in charge to give to their reports. This also applies to colleagues and peers.

Furthermore, I’d challenge those of you that have bosses, supervisors or managers to share words of encouragement as well. They need it just as much as you need it too.

HAS BRANDON GONE SOFT?

You may be wondering what this has to do with practice management, business, revenue, CPT codes or ICD10? A lot!

Medical practices don’t sell products, transport goods, develop software or produce widgets in a factory. Our businesses are all about people. Consequently, the only way to improve productivity or enhance performance is by getting better at managing people. And frequent reminders that show appreciation is one of the best way to become a great practice manager.

As it turns out, people that are recognized, appreciated and affirmed are far more productive, far more efficient, and far more happy than those that are not.

 


Do you regularly provide positive feedback to your employees? Do you provide positive feedback to your boss, manager or supervisor? If so, how do you prefer to affirm or show appreciation to the staff? A note by email, a handwritten note, publicly? I’d love to hear ways your practice engages employee.


 

10 Questions You Need To Ask Before Starting A Project To Ensure Success

The best strategy one can embrace before beginning a project is to gain clarity on the task at hand. And with these 10-questions, you’ll gain the perspective required to ensure your project gets off to the right start.

Imagine all of the sudden you decide to go on a camping trip. So you round up your spouse and the kids, jump in the car and head out. No supplies, no route, camping equipment, site, food or proper clothes. When asked about all these things, you respond by saying, “We’ll figure it out as we go along.”

I’m no camping expert, but I know that this is a silly way to go about camping. Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 4.17.50 PMBut here is the thing… even though most people would never go on a camping trip without determining a site beforehand, planning out the best route, deciding how much food they’ll we need to take and how many days they will stay, I’ve seen first-hand many practices that have embarked on more than one project with the same carelessness.

“What is the plan for the transition?” 

“Too busy right now. We’ll figure it out as we go.” 

I’m no project management expert, but that is a silly way to about conducting a project at one’s practice. No wonder many projects end up taking longer, are more expensive and cause more headaches than expected.

To get a better understanding of the project, we should ask ourselves these questions:

1 – What is the project?

It is important to write down the project because writing it down actually means something. If you have it in your head, you don’t really have a project. You just have an idea.

2 – When is it due?

The more specific, the better.

3 – Who is responsible for this project to succeed?

You can add all the team members, but ultimately, there has to be somebody that is THE responsible person.
Who is your customer?

4 – List the names of people that you are trying to please.

It could be your boss, your patients, your parents, voters, the board of directors or anybody else. It is important to list them because there is a good chance that you might lose sight of why you are doing this project. And when you do, it is helpful to know who you are doing this project for.

5 – Who are the authorities, influencers and gatekeepers?

List all those names under this question. These are the people that actually matter. Everybody else, you can ignore.

6 – Who is essential to the success of your project?

In every project, there are always key people that must embrace the project for it to succeed. List the individuals or committees or groups of people.

7 – What does perfect look like?

Often times, we start out a project without really thinking about what the end results is supposed to look like. Consequently, we lose direction. For this question, it is important to be as specific as possible.

8 – What does failure look like?

Failure is an important aspect of project that one must consider. For starters, failure is almost a sure thing. Thus, understanding what it looks like helps one steer away from it.

9 – How would you plus it?

Here is the stuff you put down when one says, “you know what would be cool?” List 5 or 10 things that would make your project that much better.

10 – How would you minus it?

Just like adding little things to make your project a little better, there are other things that you ought to consider that don’t add anything to the project. These are the things that if you take away from your project, you will actually improve it.

The best strategy one can embrace before beginning a project is to gain clarity on the task at hand. And with these 10-questions, you’ll gain the perspective required to ensure your project gets off to the right start.

5 Sure Ways To Accomplish Little

Lines accomplishments focusTrust me on this one. Follow these five tips and I can ensure you will have a harder time managing your medical practice. Money back guarantee!

1 – DON’T WRITE GOALS DOWN

It’s far better to think about your goals on the drive to work in the morning and then forget them two days letter. Who wants to keep track of stressful things anyway?

Besides, you’ll only be disappointed 6-months from now when you discover you’ve only accomplished 4 out of the 5-goals.

2 – BE VAGUE

Refrain from being specific about your goals, strategies or expectations. The broader, the better. Maybe your goal was NOT to improve your A/R by 10%. Maybe your goal was to wish for Devine intervention so that all the people that owed money would spontaneously pay their medical bill with the practice.

3 – DON’T DEFINE SUCCESS

Since your intentions are to really, really be successful, you will have no problem making it happen organically. Wish hard!

4 – PLANNING IS NOT NECESSARY

Forget about a plan, action items or steps that need to be taken. You are busy. I know. There is no time for this preparation nonsense. If you desire it enough, surely you will achieve it. Everything will work itself out, right?

5 – TIMELINES? Pluheeze!

Deadlines are only good for one thing, and that is increasing one’s anxiety. Besides, what difference does it make if you decide on an EMR 1-month, 12-months or 6-years from now? All that matters is that you will end up with an EMR, eventually.

Never mind that the sooner you set a timeline the sooner you can move on to improving the office workflow, organize yourself better and streamline processes. Who wants that hassle?

 


 

Bonus Tip:

6 – ACCOMMODATE EVERYBODY’S NEEDS

Make sure you please everybody. It’s the only way to keep the harmony. Delay making changes for fear it will not please everybody. For example, You have two partners that are holding out despite the fact that the majority is on board? Don’t hurt their feelings by going against them.

Good luck!