26 August 2010, by tpotisk
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?
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?