More best business lessons

August 10, 2011

These practice management pearls are intended to help fill in the gaps of being a better businessperson.

LESSON #1

OPERATIONS STAFF MANAGEMENT

Assemble a string of pearls

Mind your mission. Several business bestsellers, notably the "e-myth" series, recommend that you analyze and promote what your business uniquely offers. What do you most enjoy? What sorts of patients are particularly attracted to your practice? What sets you apart from the other physicians in your specialty? What is your niche? Once you define your "focus factors," consider writing a mission statement of one to three sentences that coalesces your key practice aims. This statement will help your support staff understand what you want to accomplish, and why. It also will help you target your marketing efforts to people who will be more receptive to your message.

Know what you don't know. This is a telltale sign of wisdom in physicians and staff. People who humbly admit they don't know everything are attentive, curious, and teachable. Doctors aren't born businesspeople. Just as a family physician can diagnose a brain tumor but consults specialists to treat it, most physicians know the process, but not the particulars, of running a practice. After residency and 10 years of group practice employment, I knew little about personnel management, banking, business insurance, computer networks, payer contracts, marketing, and other critical topics. I was willing to master some of these new subjects but didn't want to touch others. Decide what you want to learn and do yourself, and delegate other tasks. Every doctor's strengths are different: some develop their own electronic health records (EHRs), others create their own practice handbooks and brochures, and some manage their own payroll. Just be sure you are properly trained on the tasks you assume, because ignorance can have painful legal and financial consequences.

Rely on resources. A good accountant, attorney, and IT consultant are the core of a business adviser team. Medical staff placement services, medical assistant schools, payroll services, benefits consultants, medical billing companies, commercial lease agents, marketing consultants, medical associations, and even your malpractice carrier can fill gaps in your knowledge.

I've learned a lot from peers over the years in doctors' lounge chats and online discussion groups. Various business or billing seminars, buying groups for vaccines, publications, and products from medical specialty associations have helped, along with articles in Medical Economics!