July 2010

How Doctors Can Prosper by Automating Their Practices

How can doctors prosper by automating their practices?

This was the subject of a recent teleseminar I hosted for a practice management company called PM&A (Petty, Michel and Associates). You can access a recording of my presentation on their website.

Meet Dave Michel ( left) from PM&A

PM&A is the world’s best consulting service for doctors that I subscribed  to for 24 years of my 25 year old practice. They helped me automate my practice. Why did I stick with them so long? Because I always felt that I received more than I paid for. That’s a good lesson for anyone in business, yes even us doctors! LOL.

In my teleseminar presentation I talked about the following topics:

-Financial independence

-Practice independence

-Legacies of friendships with patients, staff, associates and colleagues

-Delegating

-Marketing

-Craftsmanship/Expertise


So, by automation of a practice, I don’t mean having metal/plastic electrical machines taking care of patients. LOL. No, automation in a practice means having reproducible, repetitive  systems and procedures in place that help a practice run smoothly, efficiently, and calmly.

When a patient called my office, I was always certain that they were being taken care of properly. I had  systems and procedures in place about how to answer the phone, how to schedule their appointment, how to greet the patient at the front desk, what initial paperwork was needed, how to verify their insurance coverage, how to examine the patient, etc.

This level of organization enabled me to focus my attention on what every doctor should focus their attention on - the patient in front of them. If I was a patient that’s what I would want, my doctor’s total attention. And if I got that, perhaps with a warm smile, a gentle touch, expertise/skill, and love, then I would have a feeling I was getting more than I paid for. Sound like something to strive for?

Amazingly, in the doctor realm, the patient can remain sick or even die, yet still, the satisfaction of the customer (or the deceased family) remainsb Because we’ve done our best. Astounding isn’t it?

How does a doctor improve on this automation leading to an improved doctor’s focus/skill, and then to satisfied patients? In 2 ways. First a doctor needs competent guidance with a skilled consultant that can analyze the practice’s strengths and shortcomings, then making changes to facilitate the automation. Secondly, a doctor needs continual training and practice to perfect their skills, thus becoming a craftsman or craftswoman.

That second part, becoming a craftsman, is the “art” of doctoring and unfortunately it is increasingly becoming lost in health care. But it doesn’t have to be for you.

Early in my career, I recognized my lack of skill and expertise. I then began to look for doctors who exhibited tremendous talent and pursued them by calling them and eventually visiting them to observe their craftsmanship in action. I call these type doctors “giants”.

I believe I learned more about the art of being a doctor by watching these giants than I have from all my schooling and formal training. It may surprise you that what I observed and learned was much more than just technical, scientific treatment technique. The more obvious characteristics that I saw enabling  most of these giants to excel were their communication abilities, mannerisms, body language, and overall contentment with what they were doing and why. They all exhibited profound sincerity and confidence in their higher purpose/overall mission, and patients could sense that just being in the doctors presence – it was spiritual and it was beautiful and it’s what I want for all doctors; the greatest benefit going to patients in the form of optimum care.

Dr Tom Potisk examining a patient

The first chapter of my new book Reclaim the Joy of Practice – An Advanced Guide for Advancing Doctors is called Following Giants. In this chapter, I describe several of my encounters with these craftsman, and even reveal my procedure for identifying these exceptional doctors, and then how you can find your own, and then approach them for a visit to their office. You can buy the book by clicking HERE.

So, this automation of a doctors practice is important for the primary reason that it then allows a doctor to focus on real doctoring and pursuit of one’s higher purpose/life mission.

Hey doc, don’t spend another moment practicing without automation, craftsmanship and joy. What can you change that will make that happen?

By the way,  have you seen my other  popular blog/web sites?

For the general public: http://www.thedowntoearthdoctor.com, http://www.wholehealthhealing.com

Categories: automation, craftsmanship, doctor personal growth, practicegrowth

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Doctors Need to be Craftsmen

Doctors need to be craftsmen, and I mean that in a gender neutral kind of way.

I equate craftsmanship with art. Closely watch any craftsman or artist. See the way they focus, concentrate, and are consumed by the project in front of them. Watch how they carefully and deliberately select their tools and equipment. Watch how they hold them. Notice how their creation takes shape, and makes you wonder “How do they do that?” Notice how, if they’re seasoned, they seem to create amazing things with effortless ease.

Here is a recent comment I received form someone when I asked about craftsmanship in doctors:

“A craftsman, because he is able to see what is actually going on and because he has an actual sense of the exact pressures and pressure vectors this body calls out for, can apply the necessary effort just so.  Sometimes it is gentle, sometimes it is quite forceful – but always with that unlying sense of observation, sensitivity, and iterative correction as needed.  I think chiropractic and other alternative medicine may be working traditionally with a craft model.  I think mainstream medicine works largely with an industry model.  Comparing the two approaches is difficult, because of this difference.  I think much of the misunderstanding between the two have to do with this difference.  A craft model is by its nature based in the individual practitioner’s experience, sensitivity, and “uncanny skill”.  An industry model is by its nature based on broad research which renders broad proceedures that may work statistically.  Mainstream medicine even requires the idea of “blind” and “doubleblind” testing – and I’m not sure you can even apply that kind of test to a craft.  Even though there is an enlarged sense of risk in craftsmanship, there is also a correspondingly more nuanced sense of precision – the craftsman is able to offer something more than industry is able to offer.  But neither does the craftsman begrudge industry it’s particular kind of blind repeatability for certain things – tools for instance.” – David Orth, Marengo IL

That’s what I want in a doctor, craftsmanship and artistry,and is what most of the public is expecting in doctors. Unfortunately, it’s been getting harder to find.

Recently I posted an open question to doctors about satisfaction. Here is one of the many troubling answers I received:

“The gulf between the joy working as an MD and the pain just keeps getting
more extreme. On the ‘joy’ side, we can do more and better for my babies
with heart disease so I see more and more healthy normal children in
follow-up. This is great, great joy especially as I know the things we did
not do well in the past. Even as the joy “of the work content” escalates, the pain of the “work
environment & conditions” also escalates. Nurses and doctors get paid
less, have less to work with (to help people) and the system obstructs
rather than aids us in caring for others. The disparity between the joy of work content and the pain of work
environment [aka the healthcare system] is becoming intolerable.
THAT is why care providers are leaving and new ones are not entering
healthcare.” – J. Deane Waldman, MD MBA
Professor of Pediatrics & Pathology, UNM-HSC
Professor of Decision Science, Anderson Schools

So, what can a doctor do? Plenty!

There still are doctors practicing successfully with great joy. They’re not easy to find in the growing sea of discontent, but they are out there. In fact, I have personally found dozens of them – I call them “giants”. I personally visited these “giants” and observed all the characteristics of the craftsmanship and artistry I describe at the beginning of this article. I’m convinced that any doctor can grow those characteristics.

Dr Clarence Gonstead was a real craftsman/doctor

Here are a few comments from doctors with advice about having joy:

“In a physician, a patient sees someone who will listen without judgment, and will often express concerns and feelings he or she may not disclose to others. But it is the willing physician who stands to benefit the most, for each interaction with a patient is an opportunity to heal, not just the body, but also the soul of his fellow man. Not a single day passes in which I have not experienced the thrill of knowing that either my words–or just my concern–have made a positive difference in the life of a stranger.” – Mark E. Klein, MD Washington, DC

“The single most liberating epiphany of mine was accepting that there were many things I couldn’t fix, no matter how much patients wanted it. I can’t solve psychosocial problems. I can give advice, but I can’t make you do anything you don’t want. Sometimes there are no explanations for your pains. Sometimes your choices are “bad” and “worse” and the option you want isn’t available. I’ll do my best for you, but some of the responsibility falls on you, the patient.” -David A.Rivera, MD, FACOG Lombard, IL

“I’ve reclaimed joy in my medical practice because I practice medicine in a way that is harmonoius with my perspective on life– to ‘do not harm,’ to serve others in a ‘patient-centric’ environment, and to use the more natural approach when possible. During my teen years I underwent two thyroid surgeries and was placed on daily medicine. While doing my residency in Los Angeles , I consulted with a holistic practitioner and was able to discontinue my thyroid medication altogether. The results astounded me, and led me on a path of discovery in the field of holistic healing and homeopathy for myself and my patients. Helping them the way I was helped has brought me joy.” -Lauren Feder, M.D Los Angeles CA

“Joy in practice comes from inspiration. I love people and am driven to help them. With inspiration, all mundane daily tasks and seriouschallenges are transcended because I have a spiritual mission–I am onthis planet to help people overcome their physical (and often associated mental) ailments. Inspiration is the secret to success in all professions. Health care providershealers–have it easy, because most of us have this underlying mission to help people, which ultimately drives us. If you feel uninspired by your work, reconnect with your spiritual mission–joy will soon follow.”- Dr. Nick Campos DC West Hollywood CA

Doctors, don’t spend another minute practicing without joy! It’s available for the taking. The good news is that, if you’ve been struggling, it’s not entirely your fault. No, it’s likely you just have not been taught all that you need to know. The “joy” training is not a part of the regular curriculum. LOL.

That’s why I wrote the book called Reclaim the Joy of Practice - An Advanced Guide for Advancing Doctors. This new 140 page book contains over 50 easy to implement tips to bring you joy in practice. I’ve even included details about my visits to those “giants”  I mentioned earlier. You can buy the book by clicking here.

And you can read Part 2 of this Craftsmanship article by clicking HERE.

Hey doc, what are you waiting for?

By the way, have you seen my other blog/web sites?

For the general public: http://www.thedowntoearthdoctor.com, http://www.wholehealthhealing.com

Categories: craftsmanship, doctor personal growth, practicegrowth

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