How Well Do Parents Know What You Do As a Pediatrician?

It’s hard to appreciate the value that pediatricians provide when one is not aware of exactly what it is that pediatricians do.

During the summer months, I posted on our practice’s Facebook page, a note encouraging parents, to schedule their children’s wellness visits.

Although the message was for our entire Facebook community, I wanted to catch the eye of parents with teenagers. Don’t know how well you manage teens in your office, but in our office, we have decent wellness visit numbers with younger patients. The teen population?

Not so much. Once the teen years kick in, we mostly see them when they are sick.Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 11.48.51 AM

I wanted to encourage parents to make their wellness visits but also throw in a subtle nudge to parents with teens.To get their attention, I opened with this line: Did you know pediatricians are trained to treat children from birth to adolescence? Then I went on to talk about the importance of wellness visits etc.

Something interesting happened. The post outperformed other Facebook post. It received more likes that than the ordinary. But that the surprise me. What surprised me the most, were the comments from parents.

One mom said, “it’s good to know the pediatrician can see my teen.”

Another said, ” Timothy is going to be so happy when I tell him Dr. B can still see him.”

WHAT WAS THE LESSON?

It’s an age-old lesson. It’s a lesson on assumptions and what happens when we make them.

That simple, otherwise ordinary status update, got me thinking about how well (or not) we communicate what it is that we do as pediatricians. If so many people weren’t aware that pediatricians can treat teens and beyond (0-21), what else don’t they know? The irony is that our website is tagged with the line “Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.”

OPPORTUNITY

We clearly have a communication problem. And I would argue that our lack of proper communication about what it is we do as pediatricians (more than runny noses and giving shots) is why many parents don’t see the distinction between a retail clinic and a pediatrician.


 

It’s hard to appreciate the value that pediatricians provide when one is not aware of exactly what it is that pediatricians do.

 


 

The good news is that there is a significant opportunity for pediatricians to cover a lot of ground. How so? By using social media channels to educate our community about all the great services we are trained to provide.

I also believe that leveraging this opportunity could aid your practice in differentiating itself from the competition.

WHAT IS YOUR COMMUNICATION STRATEGY?

Since I realized there was a chasm between our assumptions and the reality, I’ve been intentional about informing our community about the training, knowledge and expertise our pediatricians can address.

Some of it may seem too obvious for those of us that do this every day. Like explaining the importance of wellness visits.

But the truth is, some parents don’t know about yearly wellness visits. They assume that because the child no longer needs shots, they don’t need to go to the doctor.

Beyond promoting wellness visits, I use many of the things included in the Bright Futures guidelines as a way to highlight that a visit to the pediatricians is highly comprehensive.

And by educating our population, I’m also marketing our practice in a unique way. Instead of mentioning in a promotional piece that we accept most insurance plans, I may mention that how we can provide family support, safety and injury prevention, or mental health.

MARKETING STRATEGY

Not only is promoting and sharing this information relevant and valuable to parents, but I also think it is an excellent way to differentiate ourselves from the MinuteClinics or other medical services that overlap with pediatrics (i.e. Urgent Centers, Family Practice, Telemedicine).

YOUR CHALLENGE

Think about your medical practice’s communication strategy, or lack thereof. What is your practices unique selling proposition? What problems do you solve that others don’t? Then think about how best to communicate your message. Also, consider the channels you’ll be delivering your message. By channels I mean, traditional advertising, email campaigns, social media, etc.

Remember, each channel is unique, thus requires you to craft the message differently.

I’ll leave you with this… times are changing. That is certain. And we have two options, two paths to choose from. Disagree with how things are changing, or find ways to agree with the shifts in a way that benefits you and your practice.

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!

10 Question You Must Ask If You Want Your Project To Succeed

clarity.001When you observe large organizations, the kind that have MBAs, experienced managers and directors, a savvy CEO and a lot of resources, you would assume they succeed at every single project they do. They have the brain power, the money and the experience. Why would they not succeed?

But the reality is, projects fail all the time. They take longer than expected, are often over budget, conflicts emerge, sometimes people get fired, others quit and the project is doomed.

Why is that? Why do projects fail? Why do they fail despite the talent, experience and resources, etc?

Not long ago somebody explained it to me like this. The reason projects fail is because the people that are working on the project don’t know what it is they are doing. There isn’t a unity, a clear goal, a finish line that all involved are working together to reach. The fundamental issue is this:

In both large and small organizations projects fail, not because of lack of skills, resources, talent or experience, but rather because of lack of clarity.

If lack of clarity is the core reason projects fail, how do we make sure we have the clarity? The answer is somewhat underwhelming. It consist of asking the right questions. Questions that get to the essence of the project.

Here are a few you and your team can ask to get you started on the right path.

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. Furthermore, writing down what it is that you are trying to accomplish will be a solid reference for yourself as well as your team members.

When is it due?

This one seems obvious. But in my experience, we don’t set dates nearly enough. Putting a date down will provide a sense of urgency. It will also keep people focus while keeping procrastination at bay. The more specific you can be with the due date, the better.

Who is responsible for this project to succeed?

You may be tempted to add all the team members involved, but ultimately, it is better if there is somebody that is THE responsible person. Think about it in terms of a professional sports team. The coach is ultimately responsible for the team to win even though it is the players that are tasked with the execution.

Who is your customer?

List the names of people that you are trying to please. It could be your boss, your patients, your patient’s 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.

Who are the authorities, influencers and gatekeepers?

These are the people that actually matter to the project. These are the only people you need to pay attention to. Define who they are. Everybody else, you can ignore.

Who is essential to the success of your project?

In every project, there are key people that must embrace the project for it to succeed. This group of individual are not the same as the authorities, influencers and gatekeepers. These can be committees, specialized groups, financial backers, that without their involvement you are dead in the water.

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. Much of the clarity comes from answering this questions appropriately. Take your time with this one. It is an important questions and should not be taken lightly.

What does failure look like?

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

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. But make sure addition to the projects become distractions that can delay the timeline or take away from the final product.

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. Steve Jobs asked a version of this question frequently. I don’t remember the quote exactly, but I remember somewhere reading Jobs saying something like, you know when you are done, not when you can’t add anything else but when you can’t take anything else away.

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. Notice, for example, budgeting isn’t addressed. It’s absence doesn’t mean it isn’t important. However the purpose of these questions is to help you and the team begin defining the project in a way that is clear and concise for the benefit of all.

What would you add to this list of questions?

 

Editorial Note: These questions were inspired and others borrowed from Seth Godin’s book Ship It. 

Earn 2 Free Passes to Attend a Pediatric Practice Management Seminar

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 5.41.58 PMDuring last AwesomeCast, Chip and I talked a little about different New Years resolutions that practices could adopt. I shared a few that have been on my plate which focused more on building culture.

Chip had some really good ones. In fact, I wrote down a couple so I would remember to add them to my list.

But one  I thought was especially good that Chip offered was to send staff members to a seminar. 

To learn why this is a good idea, you’ll have to listen to the AwesomeCast. But to participate in our contest, keep on reading.

As it turns out, our buddy Paul Vanchiere from Pediatric Management Institute is putting together several seminars around the country. So Chip offered to give 2 free passes to one of the seminars hosted by the PMI.

Here is what you need to do.

Share your best ideas for your New Years Resolutions and the winner get two (2) free passes to the PMI pediatric practice management seminar of their choice. Head over to Chip’s blog at chipsblog.pcc.com for details about the contest.

For more information about the PMI seminars:
http://pediatricmanagementinstitute.com/events/future-seminars-and-webinars.html

#22 Holiday Special Episode [Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast]

Chip and I put together a holiday edition of the AwesomeCast. We decided to merge two holidays and discuss: 1) What we are thankful for; 2) New year resolutions.

Don’t worry. We discussed both of these topics in the context of practice management. So don’t dismiss this episode. Chip shared 3 resolutions that I think were great. I wrote them down so that I would remember to include them in my “things that I need to do in the next year” list for 2014

Enjoy!

You can listen to the AwesomeCast by visiting the links below:

iTunes

Pediatric Practice Management Media Cast 

Click to Listen

#20 Key Performance Indicators Smart Practice Managers Measure [Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast]

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 7.42.08 PMFor today’s AwesomeCast, I invited my friend Paul Vanchiere from the Pediatric Management Institute. Apparently, Chip had more important things to do… Pfff. Family. So he was MIA for this recording.

If you don’t know about the Pediatric Management Institute, make a note to visit. Paul and his team are doing some really cool things to help pediatric practices manage their business better.

Paul knows a few things about key performance indicators, why they are important, and most important, how to calculate them. So I sat down with him and asked him a few questions regarding the topic.

On the AwesomeCast, Paul shares with us an area on his website where you can find explanations, formulas, examples and descriptions for all the key performance indicators.

For details check out this link: Calculators – KPI 

And if you want to learn about the seminars Paul and his crew is doing around the country, visit: PMI Seminars

Here are other ways you can check out the AwesomeCast:

#19 NCE, SOAPM and the Independent Pediatrician [Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast]

Here you have it folks. The 19th episode of the Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast.

In this recording, Chip shares with us a new project he has been working on relating to the independent pediatrician topic; we discuss some of the best NCE sessions and what you can expect at each of them, as well as talk about a write up our AwesomeCast got in the quarterly SOAPM newsletter.

 

 

Here are other ways you can check out the AwesomeCast:

If you will be at NCE this year, make sure to say hello. I’d love to get a chance to meet you.

 

#18 Is the Independent Physician a Dinosaur? [Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast]

ExtinctionNot too long ago, you couldn’t avoid reading in the media about how the independent doctors  were becoming extinct.

Pundits and experts in the field stressed that if independent doctors, those that own their own practice, didn’t join, sell, merge or retire all together, they were going to walk the same path as travel agents, video stores and mom-and-pop own book stores.

I’ve subscribed to a different thought.

I’m crazy enough to believe that there will always be a place for the small independent practice.

Sure, practices will have to adjust, figure out new ways to meet the demands (just like any other business) of a changing healthcare landscape.

But I’ve argued that even though travel agents aren’t around anymore, airlines, hotels and car rental companies are. Even though video stores are a thing of the past, Hollywood hasn’t stopped making movies. If anything, we have access to more video content than ever before.

But it has been a hard sell (not that I’m really selling anything) to convince people that the end of the world for private practices is not a certainty for all.

Recently, I’ve received great news from the consultant fronts. In conversations with Susanne Madden from the Verden Group, Mary Pat Whaley from Managemypractice.com and the Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast’s very own, Chip Hart with PCC, it seems that the independent private practice pediatrician is on the rise.

They all have shared with me that in recent months, their offices have field numerous inquiries from pediatricians looking to breakaway from the, let’s say, industrialized, corporate, factory style medicine, and start their own practice so they can practice medicine on their own terms.

Chip and I couldn’t wait much longer to talk about this topic because it is an area we are both very interested in. So for this week’s episode, we dedicate almost a full hour on the topic of being an independent physician.

We talk about what it means to be independent, the different kinds of independency (yes, there are several kinds), what are some of the trends out there and what to look for when exploring other options for your practice.

Here are other ways you can check out the AwesomeCast:

You Can Take Away Our Lives, But You Will Never Take Away Our Freedom

Braveheart_1My co-host on the Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast, is working a project that I think many that read this blog will find interesting.  I’ll let you read it directly from Chip’s original post:

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been working with some friends on a concept publication entitled “Independent Pediatrics.” The idea is to share the myriad stories of what it’s like to practice pediatrics independently – the challenges, the success stories, the future.

This will be as commercially agnostic/invisible an endeavor as possible and I’m going to be looking for people and practices with great stories. Kinda’ like “The Moth” or “This American Life” for pediatrics, but printed and WWW-based for this round 🙂

The premise, as far as I’m concerned, is that independent pediatricians are _not_ dead or dying. In fact, if you check in with the consultants, we appear to be in the midst of a renaissance.

I don’t have all the details yet, but we are in a rush to produce something in time for the NCE (what are we thinking?). I’m looking for some particular content and I’m being told that I can’t simply make up quotes, sigh. So, I’ve whipped up a 4? 5? question survey for independent pediatricians and their employees to prime the pump of our material.

If you have 5 minutes, or less, I’d be grateful if you could give me something good to chew on:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Independent_Pediatrician_Take_1

Thanks for your consideration and when there is something to see, I’ll share it here.

This is a topic that I’m very interested in, considering that the practice I work for, is in fact, an independent practice. Not only that, we want to remain independent. So I’m encouraged that Chip and his friends are taking on this endeavor.

By the way, in an upcoming episode of the AwesomeCast, Chip and I spend about 55 minutes discussing this issue. I think you are going to find it very interesting and valuable. So stay tuned.

Do Your Patients Expect Something for Nothing?

iStock_000000385270SmallI would say yes.

However, I would submit that the reason our patient’s expect something for nothing is our fault, not theirs.

The truth is, we’ve given away so much over the years. And now that we want to charge for things (that have always cost us) like forms, after hour phone calls, and other things, people think we are now wanting to collect for things that they were lead to believe had no value.

Not to mention they often think we are nickle-and-diming them now.

But some practices have been very careful about not falling into this trap of giving away their time and their resources.

Take Village Pediatrics for example. Dr. Gruen and Dr. Gorman charge parents between $150 and $325 (depending on how many children) for a plan they call the added benefits plan. Here is what their website says about the plan:

This modest per-child administrative fee includes services that may be non-covered or non-reimbursed by your insurance company and are typically billed for at other medical offices. Such services include: e-prescribing, unlimited school/camp forms, as well as 24/7/365 access to the doctors without the use of a phone triage service. This fee has allowed Village Pediatrics to offer prompt and personalized care without dramatically increasing our practice volume, dropping insurance plans, or significantly raising our cash fees.

Why would parents pay above and beyond their health insurance premium every year to visit Village Peds?

Because Village Peds from the beginning decided to take a stance and tell parents, what they do has immense value. The time they spend with patients/parents in and out of the examining room is of great value. And if patient/parents want access to Dr. Gruen’s and Dr. Gorman’s valuable time and expertise, parents are going to have to pay for it.

I say, Good for them!! I applaud Dr. Gruen and Dr. Gorman’s efforts in establishing a practice that focuses on providing value worth paying for.

And my guess is that nearly 100% of Village Peds families pay the fee. Because all the other families that didn’t see the value, don’t have their children seen at Village Peds.

Here is the hurdle for me.

When I first read  the things Village Peds  offers  as a part of their added benefits plan, I said to myself, we can’t start charging like they do.  Why? Because all the things on that list our practice already provides without getting anything  for it.

Who’s fault is that? The patients/parents?

No. This is our mistake.

For those of us in the private health care world, we need to get over the fact that people are going to complain about paying for something they used to get for free. Heck, I don’t like to pay for something I used to get for free either. So we can’t hang that over our parents.

Furthermore, I’d emphasize that it is our responsibility to educate our parents that there is HUGE value in everything we do (both inside and outside the examining room).

If we don’t educate them, parents will continue to expect what they’ve always gotten. Which is something for nothing.

This is something I’m gonna start thinking about more. Especially if the plan is to remain an independent private practice.