Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don't Be Uneasy

Experience has shown me that most office staff members are uneasy when a business consultant is working at their practice. They may fear that the consultant may find something that is not being processes correctly, fearful of losing their job, or, at the very least, is going to create additional work to be done. Well, nothing could be further from the truth!

It is fact that consultants do review current business processes and make recommendations for improvement. It is also a fact that most of these recommendations result in better efficiency and an office that runs more smoothly and on time.

My consulting practice works in many areas of medical practice management, but specializes in office flow and efficiency. This aspect of practice management affords benefits for physicians, staff, and patients.
  • Physicians benefit from improved patient flow that very often results in more patients being served in the same time period. That means more revenue for the practice.
  • Staff personnel benefit by having an office that finishes on time at the end of the day. They also benefit from having an advocate for their issues.
  • Patients benefit by not having extended "wait time" in the reception area. Most patients appreciate the "get in/get out" when comes to seeing their doctor.
Lastly, the best value a good consultant brings is the visibility of the best operations of the best practices in the area. Having someone to advise you on how to better compete, provide better customer service, train and develop your personnel, provide the support for tasks your staff does not have time for, are all good reasons not to be hesitant when a consultant calls on your office.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Vision - Imagine Your Design

I had lunch today with a financial advisor friend, and we got to talking about business - his and mine. What we discovered is that our businesses are not all that different from each other. Our discussion moved from general topics to the one of "vision." In his case, he deals with client's vision of their financial futures, looking at all the various financial instruments from insurance of all types to estate planning and retirement assets. In my case, Primoro focuses on your vision for your business.

The question is, "Do you have a vision?" You probably are looking for financial security for now and the future. You also want to have a successful and well respected practice within your community. But the questions still remains, "Do you have a vision?"

Developing a vision first requires you to look inwardly discovering your goal. And yes, that's singular. What is the singular goal you have for your practice? To help you get started with discovery, considered these factors:
  • What challenges do you face in reaching your goal?
  • What opportunities exist that will help me reach my goal?
  • What relationships do I currently have, or, need to establish to aide in reaching my goal?
  • What experiences do I have that puts me in the best position to reach my goal?
I have long been an advocate for medical practices to develop and institute a strategic plan. Conduction a strategic planning session in your practice goes a long way in ensuring your goal is aligned with your partners. If you are a solo physician, a strategic planning session can aid you in teasing out your real objective. In any case, a strategic planning session forces the development of a Vision Statement. This statement then becomes the overarching tenant on how you, and your staff, function with everyone reaching for the established goal.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Client Offer

Primoro, Inc. offers new clients a complimentary one hour consultation. To take advantage of this offer, simply click here and fill in your contact information.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Patient Communication via Web 2.0

Many of us are using the internet to present to the community information about ourselves and our businesses. In recent years the term Web 2.0 has come on the scene. Though the term suggests a new version of internet programming, it really suggests the changes by which software programmers and users of the internet interact with "the web." In short, Web 2.0 is associated with programs that enable interaction, e.g. information sharing. Some examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook and others) pod casts, blogs, video sharing, etc. In contrast to static websites, which most of us use, Web 2.0 enabled websites allow for users to interact with the website, or in our case, our businesses via the internet.

Internet marketing seems to change and modify every day. As such, it is important for business owners to stay on top of these updates and to take advantage of internet marketing. Using social networks is just good business today. In this blog, is a form of Web 2.0 as it can be reached through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, social network sites. And it is done with a single press of the "Publish" button. The programming feeds do the rest.

Using social networks in a 1 by 1 fashion is time consuming. Instead, using existing Web 2.0 programming makes it a breeze. I have long been an advocate for blog production instead of newsletter (paper or email) production. In a blog, you are writing only 250-300 words per blog, and composing separate blogs 1-2 times per week. This method of customer communication creates the constant contact that most businesses are looking for. As a side benefit, utilizing blogs, and other Web 2.0 capabilities, increases your overall web presence. And that what most of us are looking for.

For more information about Web 2.0 capabilities and CONNECT (a Web 2.0 blogging system), simply contact Primoro, Inc. to set up an appointment.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Practice Performance Data

Data collected from the Practice Performance Survey is very revealing. Medical practices are served well when they receive feedback from their patients.

Medical providers typically view the quality of medical care they provide as the only metric used by patients in evaluating their doctor. In contrast, most patients use a variety of metrics in the evaluation. Components such as price, access and quality are the metrics patients use to determine the value of the service provided.

Conducting a Practice Performance Survey gives us insight to the patient experience. For example, in survey that Primoro, Inc. is conducting, patients report that they use the telephone to make their appointments. The physician recently installed a telephone system to help direct patient inquiries. The system, one of those "Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that," has now created a sense of frustration for patients. The fact is, most patients, and the generally population, hate these systems. Customers much prefer to talk with a live person than to some machine.

With this survey data in hand, the practice is now positioned to create an alternative, more customer focused, telephone system. I generally recommend physicians hire an telephone operator to manage inbound calls. Most practices shutter at the overhead expense. This decision now becomes a choice between true customer service vs. an expense line on the P&L. I would argue that providing true customer service is always beneficial to the P&L.

Of course, all practices are different, with different needs. Thus, don't go out an hire a telephone operator without an office evaluation or Practice Performance Survey. Instead, consider conducting a survey to get your patient's feedback about your practice as your first step in providing better patient/customer service.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Patient Flow and Efficiency

Few medical practices have a scheduling strategy that maximizes the hours spent in the practice. Developing and implementing a strategy for your schedule provides the opportunity to operate in a fashion that produces better patient satisfaction, happier staff, and provides you, the business owner, a better quality in your professional life and better bottom line results.

I written on this topic in prior blogs, but bears repeating. In the current economic environment, physicians are looking to increase their patient load to help offset changes in reimbursement. Most do this without regard to their office's capacity to accommodate the extra flow. Capacity is defined as a physician's patient-time requirement, the staff's ability and talent, and the physical layout of your office.

You can locate any number of consultants skilled in evaluating your current schedule and staff competencies. You can also find architectural firms, such as Practice Flow Solutions, that specialize in medical office design.

In brief,
  • Define roles and responsibilities with accurate job descriptions.
  • Perform annual evaluations of your staff's performance ensures they are fulfilling the job requirements.
  • Training, training, training. Too many practices pay too little attention to staff training.
  • Train your reception staff to the extent you train your back office staff. Remember, they are setting your schedule. It is important for them to understand the time requirement for new patients vs. post-op checks, vs. more complex patient issues.
  • Evaluate your own performance. Check your patient encounter count for the first six months of this year. How many patients did you see?
  • How often did you end each patient session on time? Be honest. If you are comfortable seeing four patients per hour, don't schedule six without regard to your overall capacity.
  • Consult a specialist. Don't underestimate the value a good consultant can bring. Good consultants more than pay for themselves with improved patient flow.
Here's a simple formula for you. Take your net collections for the first six months of 2009. Now divide that number by the total number of patient encounters. This gives you net collections per patient encounter. Or, in other words, this is the value to the practice every patient represents when they see you. Now, if a consultant can help you see one extra patient in the morning session and one extra patient in the afternoon session, well you do the math. Over the course of one year, the added income could and should more than pay for the consultant and any additional overhead.

All the Best.