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.

Customer Service Axioms For Your Pediatric Practice

Have you noticed that everybody knows how to deliver exceptional customer service, except those that actually do? We’re all customer service connoisseurs. We all can recognize excellent service. And we are even better at pointing out bad service. But when it comes time to execute, most fail.

I think that the reason customer service is hard to execute, is not because we don’t know how to, but because we easily forget. We often get wrapped up in our task, that we lose the service-centric service that we started out with.

Samuel Johnson said, “Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.”

With this in mind, I’ve put together a slide deck that highlights a few axioms I use to remind team members (as well as myself) how to get back on a customer service-centric track.

In the comments, share with us what are your favorite customer service axioms?

Extra, Extra – Now Offering Coaching Services

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.56.46 PMPeople always ask me if I do practice management consulting.There was a time when I did. But for the past two or so years, I’ve responded by saying no. I enjoy consulting and love to do it, but I had to stop because of the time commitment.

Recently, I was talking with a loyal reader of PediatricInc about this very topic and she suggested I do remote coaching.

My friend, who owns her practice, explained that she doesn’t necessarily need a comprehensive on-site consult. “I just want to ask a question about my practice or run things by someone familiar with practice management,” she said.

She went on to say, “…you know doctors don’t get training on business, management, marketing, collections…. having somebody to reach out to that has the business and practice management training would be valuable.”

“Like a practice management coach?” I asked. And she said, “ yeah, that is a good way to put it.”

We talked a little while longer. By the time we finished up, my loyal reader and friend had convinced me.

Today I’m announcing a new service on PediatricInc called PMB Coaching for those pediatricians and/or managers that want my perspective on practice management, discuss in detail a blog post, run something by me or provide another set of eyes.

Interested in learning about the PMB Coaching?

Click on this link.

 

Do Pediatricians Have A Marketing Problem? [Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast]

WorkingTogetherToday, Chip and install about pediatricians’ marketing problem. We dive in and discuss how pediatricians have not done a good job of distinguishing themselves from the competition. And when we say competition, we don’t mean other pediatricians, but rather retail based clinics and large hospital networks.

The result of our poor efforts in differentiating ourselves? Parents don’t really understand the value that comes from visiting the pediatrician’s office rather than a retail based clinic. So in many parents’ mind, going to retail based clinic is the same intern of quality of care as visiting the doctors office, but faster and cheaper.

We also talk about what each of us thinks peds could do to begin fixing this problem.

We hope you enjoy the Awesome cast, and if you do, make sure to tell your friends about it.

For the audio version, click below:

iTunes link

#17 What Every Medical Practice Needs to Know about Web Design [Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast]

For today’s Pediatric Awesome-Cast Chip and I sit down with Alan Houser of Squareflair. Alan is a web designer. He and I worked together on Salud Pediatrics’ website.

I really enjoyed working with Alan. I’ve also enjoyed talking with him. We’ve had some interesting conversations ranging from web design (of course), to managing a small business, to how our wive’s use the iPad.

So I thought, why don’t we bring Alan on the AwesomeCast so we could talk about web design, some of the pitfalls people run into when designing their web sites and what are the things we could all do to make better websites that not only look pretty, but are also functional for our parents.

So we did.

We always like to make our AwesomeCast available in multiple formats so you can consume however you’d like:

 

Don’t forget to visit the PPMMC Google+ page, and PCC.

NCE AAP: Do You Know How To Market Your Medical Practice?

Most of the time, we think of marketing as a direct mail piece or an ad in the paper or a Yellow Pages ad. These things, however, are merely marketing tactics. They are not the essence of marketing.

Marketing is much, much more. It is more than a pretty Facebook page or a website. It is more than an ad in the Yellow Pages or even an newsletter from your practice. All those things are important, mind you. But it isn’t the extent of a marketing strategy.

Companies that do great marketing understand that marketing is not a department, but rather an attitude. It is a way of life for the organization and everyone that works in it. It transcends the organizations. In fact, marketing begins even before you create your product or service.

At NCE, I will also be giving a talk on marketing with my friend Dr. John Moore.  I will be focusing on the essence of marketing. Specifically, I’ll be addressing five components that when woven together, you get marketing gold. Dr. Moore will be bringing it home by describing how social media can affect the inner workings of your practice network and your communication outside of your practice.

The talk is called Information Management: Marketing Your Practice From Handshake to Hashtags.

Dr. Moore and I will be presenting at 10:45 am Saturday, October the 20th. It is part of the Joint Program between the Section on Administration and Practice Management (H1020) and Section on Young Physicians. Check your brochure for details.

If you will be attending NCE this year, make sure to stop by our  talk. I think you will not be disappointed.

You may also consider attending all the sessions on this track.  Some of the most savvy doctors from a practice management perspective will be in attendance. This is the Superbowl of practice management, in my opinion. If you want to learn how to manage your practice, you will not want to miss  it.

Click on the link to download the flyer for all the practice management events at NCE this year.

Oh, and remember to come say hi. I’d love to meet you in person.

I Don’t Know How Else To Put This, But My Ebook Is Kind of a Big Deal

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably know about my e-book, 101 Ways to Transform Your Practice.

If you haven’t picked it up (it is free by the way) I wanted to give you a little nudge to do so. Not everything in the ebook is going to work in your practice. But at the very least, I think the ebook will spark ideas that you would have not had otherwise.

If you are still not convinced, then let me share this little something that I got from a reader of PediatricInc recently that got the ebook.

Hi Brandon

Thank you soooo very much!

I  shared your book  with my staff, as the template for our practice meeting today, as we are forging ahead to re- engineer our practice, and I must say , afterwards our way forward became crystal clear.

In one day, we have created a Facebook page, developed an email template to thank new patients for visiting our medical home, and created three mini videos using myself and my nurse to welcome patients to Frontier Kids Care!

We have a new excitement about implementing our changes.

We are also looking at recalls, and the financial status of the practice.

We looked at our mission and are working on the charter.

Our improved website is due to be released next week, but we are going to be wasting no time in putting our new status on Facebook etc now.

I invite you to preview our before and after website at frontierkidscare.com

In Trinidad, obviously our needs are much simpler, we definitely do not have practice managers, but my solo practice has a nurse and a receptionist, and we cross train.

I definitely am challenged on  the business side, so I realize I need a business manager in some form or fashion.

So again thanks, and I wonder if your book has been published so I can purchase one.

Your practice is blessed to have you!

Take good care.

Rose Marie

I don’t know how else to put this, but my ebook is kind of a big deal. Pick it up for free by going here.

The Secret to Getting Referrals

Have you seen those signs in doctor’s offices that read, “The best compliment you can give us is a referral?” Some say this is a great way to get referrals. Simply asking for one.

I’ve also heard “healthcare marketing professionals” suggest that doctors ought to spend time in the community networking with other physicians like OB/GYNs, neighboring schools, daycares or any other person that can send a patient our way.

At Salud Pediatrics, we’ve done all kinds of things… for example, we’ve sent out letters to OBs, we’ve stopped by to say hello at daycares and also dropped off a few business cards at the local pharmacy.

But I wonder… are all these suggestions the right approach? Is doing all those things the best way to get referrals?

Let’s think about this… why would someone agree to refer a patient to you or to your practice? What is so special about your office? Is your Prevnar better than the other doctor’s Prevnar? Is your Amoxicillin more powerful than the one that is prescribed at the local retail clinic? Are patients going to refer to your doc because he wears a Mickey Mouse bow tie or because your waiting room is decorated with trains?

Those are all nice things, I suppose; but are they enough to help people decide whether or not to refer patients?

Think about some of the places, restaurants, vacation destinations or other professionals you’d be happy to refer your family, friends and acquaintances. What was special about them?

Let’s take your favorite restaurant as an example. What is it about that place that that makes you want to tell others about it and to encourage them to go?

Is it the way the servers dress? Is it the decoration? If it is food? Is it the peanuts shells on the floor? Is it the friendliness of the staff? Is it the size of their huge beer jug? Is it because it is cheap and good or because it is expensive and fancy?

My guess is that it could be one thing our all of those things. Who knows. But the constant is always the same; which is, the place is remarkable in some way. Otherwise, you wouldn’t bother referring anybody. Right?

Therefore, the real secret to getting the most referrals…. ready?

…you have to be remarkable is some way.

Thus, our focus should not be on getting the word out so much (although getting the word out is important), but rather working on being worth remarking about.

One last thing… most doctors that I know will say that their quality of care is better, thus that is what sets them apart. Perhaps.

But we know that statistically speaking, every single doctor’s quality of care can’t be superior. I mean, if everybody is super, then nobody is.

So if your quality of care sets you apart, then it ought to set you apart. It has to be evident, obvious, and noticeable. Otherwise, unless that person is your friend, why would anybody else refer to someone that is, at best, average?

Godin says, “the only thing that will make you remarkable is being worth remarking about.”

So here is the challenge. Take a look at every aspect of your practice. Everything from the way you provide care (if you’re the doc) to how the practice answers the phone to how letters get sent out in the mail and see what is remarkable and what is not. Separate the average from the worth remarking about.

Then, all you need to do, is get to work.

Why Your Practice Should be On Google Places

According to a Pew Internet study, 87% of adults use search engines (mostly Google) to find information. And an increasingly amount of those searches are for local stores and establishments. Seventy-three percent of all online activity is related to local content, according to data released by Google.
One of the ways to take control of your listings on search engines is to sign up for a free service by Google called Google Places.
This free tool allows you to not only list your medical practice, but also list how it appears online. You can add a map of your location, your services, photos, health insurance plans you currently take or anything else that helps you stand out from other practices in your area.
Here is a great video that explains how this service works.
In addition to the listings, Google Places offers a lot of data that tells you who’s searching for you on Google, how they are finding you and where they are coming from.
Don’t overlook this valuable (did I mention it was free?) resource that Google offers that will help your practice get the visibility it needs online.

What can your medical practice learn from watching the show Iron Chef?

I enjoy watching Iron Chef America. I am amazed that the Food Channel can create a show about cooking that is exciting, competitive, informative, nail biting and fun all in a single show. Theoretically, a competitive cooking show sounds boring. What is fun and exciting about that?

But Iron Chef makes you root for a guy to pull out a lobster from the boiling water so he can plate it in time, while the other guy is running franticly chopping things up ’til the last minute all while the commentator gives a play, by play and insights as to the ingredients and technique of each chef.

For those that haven’t seen the show, it consist of two chef (one is the iron chef and the other is the challenger) trying to make several dishes in an hour with a secret ingredient that is revealed to them just before the competition.

Chefs are awarded a maximum of 20 points for their dishes. Ten points for taste, 5 points for appearance – or the presentation – of the food and 5 points for creativity in which the judges take into account how original the use the secret ingredient was used.

While watching the show the other day, I wondered how each of our medical small/business practices would fair if we were judge under the same premise. Before one can answer that, let’s put things into perspective.

How would the judges score you on taste?

Let’s say instead of getting 10 points for taste we would be judged on the sensation that results from the patient experiencing our practices. In other words, what flavor do we provide before, during and after an encounter with our practices’? An encounter can be anything from how one answers the phone, to how the nurse does the blood draw, to how one tries to collect an over due payment, to how well the doctor explains a diagnosis to a parent.

Let us take a look a few more things.

How about presentation?

Presentation is how we display our practice and ourselves. This can be the practices employee culture to how the office is decorated. Is the office clean? Are the magazines in the waiting room updated? Is the movie playing on the TV current? Is your staff dressed uniformly? Are the examining rooms well organized? Do things have its place? Is the staff courteous and professional?

How would the judges rank your medical office in terms of presentation? Hold that thought. Don’t answer just yet.

Creativity, how well does your office do with that?

Creativity is the special, unique little twist one puts on our service. The little surprise if you will. This is that little something that the parent or the patient wasn’t expecting. That nice little touch that made the visit go from an ordinary visit to a “that was a nice visit.”

How would we rank on creativity? Do you offer a unique, special little twist? Do your employees go that unexpected extra mile?

What about the secret ingredient?

The secret ingredient is of course the patient. ‘Cause you never know what you are going to get.

One more thing…

Before you answer those questions, let me insert one little caveat… you see, when the judges judge the challenger’s dishes on the show, the contenders generally get good feedback. But it isn’t until the judges taste the Iron Chef’s dishes, that they can appropriately judge the challenger’s plates.

Now, think about the nicest office you have ever seen. This is that office where the staff is friendly, the doctors are great, the environment is fun, people are courteous, the decoration is really cool and they always have a nice little unexpected surprise for not just the patient, but for parents too.

That office is the iron chef, the office you are going up against. And that awesome pediatric office just got awarded 19 out of 20 possible points.

Ok, now you can answer the questions

Now, think about how you, as a contender, would fair in taste/experience, presentation and creativity? How does your practice compare? How about in taste/experience… does your office provide a better experience?

Comparing the Iron Chef to a medical practice may be a long shot. But what I’m getting at here is that the service that we provide has to be delicious, presentable and unique. Only then will we be able to carve a unique spot in our niche and be awarded 20 points for our practices’.