August 2010

Practice Management Software: The Basics

Practice management software that will really manage a doctor’s practice does not exist; but I have some suggestions.

Albert Einstein said “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created the problem.” How about looking at your practice difficulties from a fresh prospective?

Albert Einstein

First of all realize that a doctor’s office and his/her practice is all about people. Sure, doctors are rendering cures, remedies, patching injuries, and selling products related to all that but still, it’s all for and about people. So I pose a question – do you love or even like these people that are coming into your office? I ask this because if there is anything to manage as a first priority it’s that – your love for people.

No software exists that will manage that. Yes, you may still need software to monitor the business side of practice, gathering and organizing data and statistics, but unless some focus and attention is placed on the people  and the service you are giving them, then any technical assistant or software benefits will be very limited.

I was once at a practice management/practice building seminar and heard a doctor complaining to the instructor about how frustrated he was because the patients were late for appointments, were missing appointments, were not paying his bills.etc. The instructor replied with a very interesting answer “Gee, it sounds like you’re working with people!”

Thus, the first lesson is to accept that people behave like this, at least sometimes and perhaps even most of the time. Accept them, don’t try to change them. Have policies and procedures in place that minimize these difficulties by making it easier for patients to pay, keep appointments, etc. Setting these systems up and keeping them in play is where a practice consultant really pays off. The group that helped my practice for nearly 24 years is called Petty, Michel and Associates (PM&A). They are a great bunch of folks, and they have software to help with management of  advertising/promotions, insurance billing and collections, etc. An important consideration for all doctors is to understand the difference between having a patient centered practice versus a business centered practice.  For example, a patient centered practice will have hours that are convenient for patients. A business centered practice will have hours convenient for the doctor. A patient centered practice will have a missed appointment policy that assists patients in keeping their appointments, perhaps with a reminder call the day before. The business centered practice will penalize patients that miss appointments. The patient centered practice will offer patients a variety of payment methods. The business centered practice will demand payment upfront. Do you see the difference? How would you classify your practice – patient or business centered? And which type do you think is more likely to withstand difficulties, whether it be changes in insurance, a lawsuit, or an economic downturn? Focusing on having a patient centered practice  is one of the best things you can do for the long term survival of your practice. A business centered practice might bring a doctor short term joy, but a patient centered, customer friendly practice brings a career overflowing with long term joy.

Doctors struggle for many reasons and I experienced many of those difficulties myself. I was persistent in solving those issues and put those solutions into my book called Reclaim the Joy of Practice – An Advanced Guide for Advancing Doctors. You can order the book by clicking HERE. It contains over 50 practical methods for a doctor to prosper and gain more joy in practice.

So doctor, what can you do to gain more joy in your practice?

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

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

Categories: Practice management software, Uncategorized

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Business Card Strategies

Business card strategies for doctors are complicated. By business card strategies I mean promotions and marketing.

Marketing is a necessity for any business including doctors. Sure, nothing beats word-of-mouth advertising, but even that is a form of marketing. And there is a method to that too! A decade or two ago it was considered questionable whether or not it was ethical for a doctor to market or advertise their services. Nowadays it’s considered unethical if a doctor does not openly share their abilities.

So yes, doctors should and must market their services, their practices, and themselves.

There was an extremely successful doctor here in Wisconsin, Dr Clarence Gonstead who often bragged that he never spent a dime on advertising.  Upon closer inspection, this doctor had built a state-of-the-art architecturally unique clinic on top of a hill, donated substantially to build a church (containing a plaque with his name), and taught seminars all over the country; excuse me, but that is a lot of advertising/marketing. LOL.

The Gonstaed Clinic in Mount Horeb, WI

And how about doctors who get extremely great results for their patients by rendering extraordinary service, is that advertising? Absolutely!

I work with many doctors. Quite often I notice them searching for the magic bullet, the business card that will miraculously attract patients, the newspaper or yellow page ad that will make their telephone ring, or the social media program that will build a large following. If that describes you, read on!

The best marketing, the kind of marketing that never fails and has the highest return on investment is an improved you, your passion, and your skills. If people like you, what you stand for and what you can do for them, you’ll always have a full practice.

Sure, a marketing strategy should be in place, including a year-long marketing calendar, a staff member delegated to overseeing it, and a budget. But more importantly, a doctor needs to continually work on one’s self. They need to improve their communication abilities, their craftsmanship, their physical fitness, and their knowledge. They need to get ample rest and recreation. And most importantly, they need to get focused on finding and refining their higher purpose.

Dr G O Schmiedel (left) and myself (Dr Tom Potisk), 2 joy-filled doctors.

What do I mean by higher purpose? Quite simply, it’s what you want written about you on your tombstone. LOL! Yep, it’s your legacy.

When you get your life’s mission, your higher purpose clearly defined, then all the other aspects of being a doctor seem to line up, the burdens seem to lessen, and you can really discover joy as a doctor.

My new book, Reclaim the Joy of Practice – An Advanced Guide for Advancing Doctors, contains over 50 ways to get that joy, the joy that patients want their doctor to have, the joy that people can subconsciously sense and want to be around, the joy that makes a doctor’s success complete. You can order my book by clicking HERE.

Hey doctor, do you have that joy? Don’t practice another day without it!

PS  Have you seen my popular blog/web sites?

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

Categories: doctor personal growth, marketing/advertising

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