Welcome to all our new docs this week! Lots more content uploaded to our members only section too!
Sage advice from a master, spoken many years ago. I am not sure exactly who, or I would give due credit.
And you know what? It’s very Darwinian, especially in chiropractic today. Only the fit will make it. And come out so much better. I know this as I speak with doctors all over the USA.
This is a great time to reinvent yourself personally, spiritually, and refine your practice make-up, vision, goals, and especially your systems.
So much is happening so fast right now.
Just ask your patients. Ask them what they need. What they want from you to achieve their own objectives. Is it a back “Crack”, or a knowledgeable? Doctor of natural healthcare?
And by asking this, you find out how good a job you have done educating your patients. Or not.
Do you also have many more MD referrals for non-back-ache conditions? What about true, integrated care for your patients? Is your therapeutic arsenal expanding? Does the chiropractic message make it through all the clutter?
Tough times need accurate answers, and clear honest appraisals.
To that end, we need to also know what your needs are. Really. This is the best way we can help you grow.
For example, staffing, marketing and especially technology systems we wrote less than 18 months ago are being revised. Collections systems, theraputic delivery to patients. This is Future security, healthier patients and our own future fulfillment.
It’s the antithesis of Future Shock. It will be essential to survival. I can’t say it any stronger.
Out of all this, is emerging an entirely new model of practice, and practice development.
Expanding your practice in challenging times
Fuel prices. Surcharges. Layoffs. Real Estate mortgage cruel jokes. Stupid property valuations of the last few years. And now for those needing health care services its health insurance benefits that are often laughable. 40$ co pays. But, this is the stuff swirling with angst in your patients head, and in some areas of the US and abroad, in differing socioeconomic strata way more than others.
For most practices this is Future Shock!
So, doctor, when the patient before you today has little or no insurance benefits, or a third party system gets yanked from your area, are you just continuing to try sell just an office visit?
Or, like I teach my upper level clients, are you and your entire team offering absolutely everything that an office visit and great patient care can create in your patient’s life? Do you have all the tools and systems to really create the practice of the future?
The answer should be obvious. And doctor, do you continue to be only about their “coverage”, or are you really and honestly only about their health, just like I had to tell and then wrote about my “Mrs. Jones” many months ago.
If you are only about their health, does every one of your staff know this, and reinforce it on every visit? Or, do you play games like free services, forgiving co-pays and deductibles, dual fees? I certainly hope not, on ALL the preceding issues.
Do you instead of games have systems fully in place to deal with all these issues in your patients mind? And what about your team? Without having your doctor’s income, it can be tougher around their homes too these days.
So what’s the solution to these issues going to be in today’s world?
Its Pollyannaish in my opinion not to acknowledge all these issues of today’s brave new world. To do so could be really insensitive in dealing with staff and patients.
It is however a huge error in judgment to let these current economic changes dominate your thoughts. The only constructive thing to be done right now is to work on continually evolving your systems, mechanisms and procedures to deal with all the issues at hand.
But most especially, first take a hard look at your attitude. Is it “Chicken Little (you know, ‘The sky is falling!’)? Or Zig Ziglar like (“You can get anything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get what they want!”).
The people you associate with, what your coaches teach you, what you watch on the tube, listen to and read, what has this done for you lately? You get my point.
The fact is changes, yes especially economic are natural, and cyclic. Sometimes they hit really hard. This might just be one of the toughest cycles in recent memory, after the boom of the last 20-25 years.
Big problems I see ahead in private healthcare are more likely with doctors who have never had to manage a profitable practice in tougher economic climates. Or have not yet established simple mechanisms for patients to want to pay you out of pocket.
Doctor, the truth is your patients want only you. They want your knowledge, decision-making skills and expertise. They want a compassionate human being, not a stuffed shirt.
Doctor, the real truth is your patients want the benefits of your care. They are not going to pay for “office visits”. They will however, pay you for an experience.
And so here it is with private healthcare practices today. We can ill afford to be about office visits, anymore than Starbucks is, or will ever be just about coffee.
Your patients need, and want way more from your office, now more than ever. Especially when care opportunities and choices abound for them. You only need to look at the explosive growth of massage clinics, medi-clinics at Wal-Mart and CVS, and now even franchised alternative healthcare chains, spas of all types and economics, and even cosmetic dentistry and surgery centers to figure this out.
Patients need and are looking for an office environment, which helps them escape all the crap in the rest of their lives. A receptionist that is warm and welcoming, and caters to them. An office that looks and feels clean, calming, more spa like than clinical. The right colors and feel. Product sales that support and enhance the experience. Support Staff that is friendly, helpful and upbeat.
And your patients really want true health and fitness, well into their later years. Now they expect and will seek out ways to ensure less physical pain, more energy, less stress, weight and blood lipid (cholesterol) control. They want not to be diabetic due to poor fitness, suffer with fibromyalgia, or be chronically stressed out or depressed and anxious.
They want no undesired side effects from treatment. They want financial clarity. And today’s patients expect complete technological literacy with an incredible human touch behind it.
Do this right, and you will really have a fantastic practice. Raving fans, tons of referrals, and yes, most especially patients who pay you handsomely for their experience which is unlike anything else in their neighborhood. You will be THE go-to doctor.
But, you will not pull this off without an effective strategy and market study. Do your homework. Study our guidance on practice makeovers. Make rock solid your staffing systems. Set it up fully compliant, and with the best legal and tax structure.
Lastly, come to “Future Shock”. Really learn this right. Let our experiences with practices from around the country help to plan your practices fine tuning, or if need be a makeover, the right way, the first time.
As I write this, it’s just after our Miami Superconference. I’ve got 3 hours before a late flight home (which is way better than some member stories from the start!). We finished up at Dolphins Stadium by watching the Patriots mow down the Dolphins. What a difference a year can make with a really phenomenal team and their coaching. Watching the entire field of blue and white out maneuver their opponents on almost every play. These players and all their coaches really learned from last year focus intensely on the goals (TDs) and made some very needed changes. And Man, does it show in 2007. Undefeated.
And so it is with our PPW team, and all our players as well. What a year it’s been since Boston, our first Superconference. We have quintupled our active membership, coast to coast. Our preview conferences are international, as is our Perfect Practice Tips. Now Miami is another big step, with California next!
What an event! My guests were nothing short of spectacular! Thank you all. I was so thrilled to meet our members from around the country in person. What a fabulous hotel, and environment in which to both play and learn. I was able to watch the interaction of all my members and guests, so ready and willing to grow, learn new skills and change. And despite Miami 2007 being held Fri PM through Sun AM, with numerous guests and vendors, our membership almost universally told us you want more next year!
So, Just after I finished my Sun AM Mastermind Breakfast, I decompressed, (Crashed) but next debriefed with my confidants, and came up with a list of over 25 things that will be different, better or expanded next year. Initially, these seemed trivial, but only several hours later I realize the impact of theses change will be enormous, and benefiting my doctors greatly from today forward. The effects of our changes however will be only most evident as they work in harmony, next year and beyond.
As I observed you with my guest speakers and vendors and talked with you all, it reminded me that it really is in the willingness to change that propels us all evermore towards success, happiness and personal fulfillment.
Doctors, you really teach ME so much, and I appreciate you evermore for that.
But here is what my biggest take away was. Practicing DCs almost universally are ready to be Commanders of Change ™. Unafraid to eject what’s not working or doing as well as it could. Setting life up on their own terms. Doing the right thing, regardless of external pressures to compromise. Even if its going to require some work, often extensive.
The reason being of course is that the same course equals the same and sometimes poorer end results. If you are totally satisfied with the status quo in life and practice, that might not be so bad.
But if you are not completely satisfied with your results and circumstances, only a different course will produce new and better results.
But where do we start with change? Never just for the sake of change! You must always have an end in mind, a clear set of objectives as your benchmark.
A good example is marketing. And here most especially, targets and goals are a must. If you cannot measure results with promotions, both internal and external, you have no data upon which to base the need for change. Spend more? Less? Change of media? A sub par performance in marketing campaigns necessitates change!
Conversely, if you can measure cost per patient or lead, numbers of new patients or leads. Etc., you can then make better decisions, and hence measurable results.
So, always have data upon which to base change. This is where basic statistics, and analysis is of enormous benefit.
In private coaching though, a major issue is the reluctance of doctors to act, to actually implement changes to avert an impending crisis in poorly performing areas of their life or practice. This happens too often, even when the doctor knows what needs to be done!
Remember, unsuccessful people are universally unwilling to do the work needed to take effective steps for change. Personal growth is about change. It’s about letting go of past ideas. It’s about finding new pathways, and fine-tuning for maximum results. Constant learning and upgrades. New skill sets.
Phenomenal results, and the life and practice of your dreams requires introspection, work, and good coaching when stuck, or unsure of what to do next.
Please, let this be you!
Learn more about the changes needed to expand your practice, and your life by listening to this complimentary 45-minute seminar we did this week. Get it here at: http://instantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=996123
We look forward to helping you grow your practice, and your life too!
Looking back, about a year after first writing about Commanders of Change™ as a progressive new breed of doctors, little did I realize how prophetic it would be. The doctors in private practice we see doing the best even in this brave new world are commanding their own change, and reinventing themselves, and their practices. Despite the outside world. They have indeed learned to Practice by Design ™.
Those having extraordinary difficulty in private practice are instead practicing by default.
Its no secret, things are very different in your patient’s lives now too. More than just an election year uncertainty. Entire pillars of American society are shifting very, very quickly.
So, here’s the simple choice. Learn new systems, grow, and become more patient-centric while reinventing your practice, yourself and your future.
Or, do nothing, and wish things were like they used to be. Either way, recognize it is a choice that will have profound consequences on the rest of your life.
I am not saying it’s easy. If it were, all doctors in private practice would easily gross six and seven figure incomes. For some of us, it’s the most difficult issue in life right now.
I do however speak from experience when I tell you that the direction you take now, because it is such a pivotal time can mean dominating your given market area, building a powerful, profitable practice knowing you are fulfilling your professional destiny, and having that extra income committed to permanent interest bearing investments that can give you a lifetime of freedom.
Or, failing to act decisively, quickly, while gathering all the tools and information you must have regardless of who or what tries to dissuade you can mean closing your doors. It’s this simple.
Do you hang around with naysayers or dwell upon how tough things are while distressing about loss of income and your investments?
It’s your choice.
Or, have you instead asked for help where you need it, moved forward with a clear vision of the future instead of regrets about the past.
While you are reviewing or reformulating your game plan, here are some of the critical areas that need special attention.
First, are you and your entire team communicating the true value, the most meaningful benefits about what you do, and simultaneously making it easy for those who want more of what you have to offer raise their hands and buy more?
Do you talk only about pain, covered visits, or ‘Longer, healthier life with the energy and physical capacity to engage your passions to their fullest’? Do you teach them how to be continuously “Looking and feeling spectacular?” And “Having more energy than people 10-15 years younger’?
Because doctor, this is exactly what your care does for people.
If you are not currently fully engaged along these lines, this is where I advocate you spend lots of time investigating how the practice development programs we have developed for you can best be deployed to make all this your reality too.
Always remember, these are the patients that tell everyone about their doctors. And gladly pay for everything you do. And come back year after year with their kids and grandkids.
Next, is your team crisp, efficient, friendly and understanding? Do they go out of their way to make the office a place people love to come to, and tell everyone they know? Do they also fully support you or stress you out way too much? This also, is a choice. Your choice.
As a vital referral driving and expanded patient care network, what is the quality of your healthcare professional relationships? Have you aligned yourself with like-minded MDs, DMDs, DPMs, etc? Do they refer easily back to you in complete confidence? Do you work to continue to help them as well as their patients?
Most importantly, do you have a clear vision, and a step-by-step game plan to make this all a reality?
Not too long ago, I wrote how to develop a step-by step implementation game plan. If you are having difficulty with any of these critical areas instead of going into overwhelm dedicate some quiet time, a day or two out of the office if need be, use the simple system I developed for you and just get it done.
And remember, this is where good coaching and modern tools and systems are priceless.
I look forward to hearing your success story!
Now more than ever, the impact of your daily decisions is multiplied exponentially. Let’s face it, It’s not the easiest job in the world running a private practice, and add additional financial and social pressures from the world we live in today, it can be downright stressful.
Fortunately, this is also the best time to be establishing yourself firmly in your community, Building the practice of your dreams. It’s easier to get noticed, because there is less marketing clutter. It’s also far easier to obtain “pole” position in your community.
There are several things you can do to right now to facilitate in developing the skills you will need to design and have the practice you deserve.
The first item to look at is your own personal daily stress level in the office. I find that doctors create an inordinate amount stress on themselves simply due to lack of organization, and too often simply lack of direction to key staff persons. If you have not yet begun starting each day with a brief meeting, I suggest you do that first. Take three to five minutes with key personnel and make sure the major objectives for the day are outlined as well as reviewing key components of current marketing and promotions.
Second, consider your own study time. How much time do you allot to use the tools, and in skills development you will need to not only stay in practice but truly prosper over time. This of course requires you make time when you’re not seeing patients, when you’re not engaged in other activities.
Thirdly, when is visualization time? This key component is left out by far too many. The more crystal clear your vision is, better your results will be.
There are many very creative things that each of us can do in our own communities right now. Some of these things include hosting a community event (sports, cultural, etc.) And simply taking advantage of local radio and TV time. What about writing articles for the local newspaper? Simply spend more quiet time visualizing your desired results, and you’ll find these ideas continue to come to you.
And what about your own physical fitness time? Sometimes even doctors forget, that being in the best physical shape you possibly can be facilitates clear and more effective decision-making.
What about your next vacation? What about hobbies you engage in on regular basis? How much time have you dedicated to these?
The big picture.
Dr., if your practice is solely dependent upon a single stream of income, have you already designed other components of practice that will bring additional revenues your way? Some key examples include nutrition, decompression, specialization in certain conditions, etc., etc.
And what about your referral systems? Are you dependent upon a single source of professional referrals? Do you have a fully functional professional contact system in place so that you cannot only target groups but the appropriate subgroups? When was the last time you contacted them with regard to all the new developments in your practice, breakthroughs in patient care, etc. When was last time you had lunch with some of these professionals?
And what about referring to their practice? Do make consistent and appropriate professional referrals? If not, is difficult to expect the same in return.
Next, It has been said, many times that failure to plan it is just like planning to fail. Have you posted an annual calendar? Noted all the services that you plan to implement as well as all your personal time off? Do not forget the daily activities, and marketing programs that you know you will need to be engaged in to truly prosper.
This year already, is hallmarked by relentless changes. Future Shock is here, in full evidence. Quite likely, it’s only the beginning. Always remember though, the better prepared you are, the better your results will be.
Lastly doctor, what is your personal vision? What would you like to obtain both with and from private practice? If this is not clearly spelled out, I’d suggest you do this first.
Then, embark upon a new personal growth program. This is precisely what I do with my coaches and mentors. Gather all of knowledge, tools, and skills you need to implement a new game plan. This must include your goals, as well as benchmarks along the way to make sure you remain on target.
This is where your inspection and analysis skills such as keeping basic statistics, obtaining staff and patient feedback, as well as regularly kicking back and taking a look at the big picture.
Finally, here’s the key concept. Learning to really live and practice in this way not only reduces your stress level but stimulates your financial wellbeing as well.
What it will finally take is anyone’s guess. Our candidates for public office are great at talking a good game, but what ultimately it will take is a combination of “Common Sense” (written in 1776 from Founding Father Thomas Payne*) and a return of major corporate ethics, with effective, consumer driven oversight and simplified regulation.
Assuming we keep a private, free enterprise system, lets finally put the consumer in charge, just like with other types of insurance. Lets simultaneously expand HSAs and FSA programs and benefits to further breed responsible healthcare consumption.
It is likely the best solution, easiest to implement without burdening us with bigger government. I say let companies like Geico, Progressive and others that market auto insurance direct to consumers into the ring. Let consumer choice drive them to cut costs by uncoupling dollars from non-benefits payment. Give them simple rules to follow, nationwide, exempt from state lines. This could be huge, and would not take any dismantling of our major delivery systems.
Remember, Medicare runs on 4% administrative overhead, but currently private health insurers are closer to 25%. Much of this goes to the questionably ethical profiteering of extreme proportions, exorbitant salaries for executives and contributes to ridiculously poor provider reimbursements.
And, how about adding return of premium benefits to reward the healthiest while not penalizing the seriously ill. This is a tremendously powerful idea that would reap huge benefits for the consumer. It’s already done with disability and some other types of insurance and mutual insurance companies regularly pay dividends to payees. So, Lets make sure that some of insurance premium dollars can be returned if consumers stay healthy.
Lets also finally de-link health insurance from employers and employment benefits once and for all. This has been an absolute catastrophe. Even the Boston Globe recently acknowledged this. The extreme burden on US businesses of all sizes from health care premiums is well known. The trickle down benefits to business, like the automakers, municipalities and others could also be a huge economic stimulus.
Uncoupling health insurance benefits from employment would make consumers ultimately more fiscally savvy and responsible. This could quite likely increase their wages simultaneously as employees would now purchase all benefits outside of their work. Uncle Sam can help with deductibility and tax exemptions, maybe larger in the beginning to help foster the transition.
I also believe that there should be real consumer dollars available for CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine) that can be used in the treatment of our most common and non-life threatening disorders especially if the consumer does not utilize more expensive traditional pathways for the same condition. Back pain and headaches are two very real examples that both happen to be still the most common reasons for doctor’s visits, and are at least in part linked to stress and unhealthy lifestyles.
This mechanism alone would foster consumer education to choose their own healthcare pathways with taking an additional financial hit in addition to premiums.
Any effective system must simultaneously provide equitable reimbursement and other incentives to all licensed doctors of all disciplines as well as ancillary providers for our society to keep great healthcare providers in the system.
This must include simplified reimbursement schedules, equal across the professions for identical procedures. I strongly favor a diagnosis-based system with utilization review only for those cases outlying the norms. This could be a technological piece of cake with a national electronic healthcare database for all Americans.
Of course, there are other issues that need to be simultaneously addressed. These include malpractice provisions (some experts suggest in a separate healthcare “court” in addition to capped awards). Better awareness of poor outcomes vs. malpractice by society at large would really help as well.
Drug costs, competition and widespread availability of tested alternatives to prescription drugs all need to be handled. Again, a consumer driven Wal-Mart type of distribution may be what already does it.
So, how can we help? Lets make sure we educate ourselves first and foremost as to what’s wrong with our current system and push our lawmakers toward better consumer choices. Take a real hard look at their differences on these topics when you vote and support any politician, as some are huge. Let your patients know who these consumer friendly elected officials are in your area are too.
Utilize cost effective preventive screenings in your practice, and advocate the same for our families. Lets make sure we teach our kids and our patients all the rewards of better health choices like non-smoking, stress management, diabetes prevention, relationship choices including illicit drugs and sexual behavior, and permanent weight control.
How it will all turn out is anybodies guess. I continue to be as vocal about these issues with my patients and community, and urge you to do the same.
Not Unlike Thomas Payne did over 200 years ago.
(*Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.)
Honest to God, its 3:10 AM. I can’t sleep, but I feel so lucky.
One of my patients died yesterday. My wife of 31 one years is asleep next to me. How lucky am I?
Judy presented to me about 10 weeks ago with acute sciatica, and low back pain.
At first, it seemed simple enough. By the end of week one, I sensed something completely different. Nothing gave her anything but very passive relief, nighttime was unbearable. Then she developed significant weakness of the legs and gait changes. Interestingly, her neuro signs were still unilateral nerve root, but that changed oh so quickly in 48 hrs. Something was “bad wrong”, here as one of my earliest professors would say.
He husband who I have cared for for 25 years was with her every moment. Very concerned. Scared for Judy.
I called her PCP who immediately began a hospital intake after we both voiced concerns about unrelenting night pain and progressive leg weakness now justifying admission and a complete workup.
Judy went down hill fast. Initially, what started as a simple sciatica was next thought by her neurologist to be Gullien-Barre‘ Syndrome.
When medication (steroids, etc) did not help significantly she then quickly had plasmaphoresis, and was sent to transitional care. She never improved significantly.
Very quickly, it was established she had some very aggressive non-specific demyelinating disease.
In essence, all this happened inside of 3 months.
Judy and Bob were married for 50 or so years. Over in a flash. There is nothing any of us as her team would have done any different, or better. But, it still sucks.
Of course we see this as part of practice, and way more if you spend a lot of time in hospitals. I did four years of this type of transitional care while in college, and I still see the face of the pretty 23-year-old girl dying of a brain tumor, and many others 30+ years later.
So, yesterday morning, after my staff broke the news (we had called Bob the night before to check on Judy), instead of bitching about how so many obstacles are being hurled onto the path of us in practice, I felt really lucky. I immediately thought about my wife and daughter.
For some reason next I start thinking this morning about the doctor from an insurance carrier trying to lecture me last Monday morning on absolutely ridiculous daily record keeping, way beyond any standard of care. I told him so. I also told him I would gladly perform a high level encounter at each re-exam (including a very detailed PFSH on each CC, in the absence of changes, or any danger signs over the last 2 years. Yes, I did review it all on this case in question, and documented all reflexes, sensory, motor, ortho tests, no fever, night sweats, bowels, and bladder.
I also explained that the company he reviews for denies such follow-up services as “not medically necessary” for the same Dx, so this will cost the patient an additional 150 or so out of pocket, for each flare up of the SAME condition).
Just for good measure, he then tells me he cannot justify adjusting more than one area. In his mind, the pelvis, upper lumbar spine and TL Joints can’t possibly need attention a 2-year postoperative laminectomy 62-year-old diabetic lady with back pain and sciatica. Even though her VAS scores went from 10-3, in 5 visits, that just did not adequately document a good outcome measure.
And I am thinking this is just nuts. There’s no common or rational clinical sense in this at all. This is not good chiropractic or good medicine. And I told him, “Screw all of this. Patient care always has to be the most important thing here”. He’ll never get it.
A year ago, it still made sense to work for these people. Now, if this keeps up they are history in my book.
Doctor, I know you know patient care has got to be your entire focus when seeing patients. The challenge is of course to do it rationally, thoroughly and not blind sighted by irrelevancy.
And when you’re not with patients, just make sure you are focused on and spending time with the things and people you value most in life.
Because when its done, that’s all there is.
…is that the vast majority of people, including educated and otherwise sophisticated people, find the idea of change so threatening that they attempt to deny its existence. Even many people who understand intellectually that change is accelerating, have not internalized that knowledge, do not take this critical social fact into account in planning their own personal lives”
Alvin Toffler, in “Future Shock” 1970
Change. Even the word alone makes some, even doctors uncomfortable. Yet others embrace and enjoy the entire creative process needed to adapt to it.
As a consultant, I have observed numerous times over my career, right next to one another, practices, which are booming, and then at precisely the same time and local there are those doctors unhappy, stressed out, struggling to pay the bills. They suffer from future shock, an emotional and physical shutdown that occurs when confronted by cumulative or overwhelming change.
After careful analysis, time after time, those doctors and their team members who continue to prosper, even in today’s world, have learned and fully developed the skills necessary to deal with change, to be commanders of change.
Changes now occur so rapidly, that even our students encounter a new world upon graduation. The sheer volume of practice information, clinical, procedural and social changes can be dizzying. And it gets more complicated and faster every day! In fact, more change now occurs in a single week, than many of us older than fifty used to encounter in an entire year.
It’s in processing, sorting, scanning and ultimately applying pertinent information, not only in our personal but professional lives that is perhaps the biggest life challenge we face today.
In healthcare practices, the systems that we used to employ for this are no longer adequate. First of all, the volume of information is too much to be handled by antiquated systems. Secondly, sorting applicable ideas and data into readily usable bits (and now bytes) is critical in today’s world.
Despite this fact, much of practice growth, development and management information as well as their delivery systems remain unchanged. Traditional consulting programs are also extraordinarily time intensive, and expensive to acquire, both of which are now totally unnecessary.
The good news is, there are now specific tools and systems that makes implementing and adapting to change much easier, far less costly and much more time effective. And it’s upon this premise that a perfect, highly profitable practice can now be built, maintained and then expanded with far less cost and time investment than ever before.
Ultimately of course, it’s up to each of us to decide what’s best for us, and congruent with our major objectives. But more and more are taking a hard look at our way. Why?
I can tell you that just as Toffler noted almost 40 years ago, it’s my observation that those doctors who do the best in today’s world are “richer, better educated, and are more mobile”. Indeed they actually “live faster” than most of the population with regard to processing and then applying change to their personal and professional lives.
They are unfazed by the sheer volume of things that need to be done, and continually upgrade their systems for doing so. They rarely complain, and get an extraordinarily amount of things done. They run highly profitable practices save more money and have far more freedom. They practice on their own terms.
These doctors are indeed the commanders of change in their communities. The bottom line is these doctors know that these are learned skills. Systems that are teachable, procedures that are simple to use, powerfully effective, once you know how.
Failure to thrive is correctable, no matter where you practice, or how long you have been at it. Learning to make better choices and decisions goes a long way. Of course, some find it easier than others. But to really live the life you have imagined as a student and now a doctor, decide to finally acquire the information that can help you learn, prosper and grow.
As Jim Rohn once said, “Discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons”.
It’s all up to you.
It has been said, that “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.
To be truly independent, on this great day of American Independence you need to know where you stand on the major cornerstones of your life (Personal, Spiritual, Material, Fitness and Financial). A strong personal philosophy on each of these is vital to your success, and developing an evolving professional life and practice .This is a great day to ask yourself if are truly living the personal and professional life you deserve. Are your actions leading you in the direction of the goals you set at the beginning of the year? If not, make the midyear corrections NOW to insure not another precious moment of your life is wasted! (This is one place where one on one consulting can really help this to take shape for you!)
When I think and read about what our American forefathers accomplished, (while spending the Fourth on Nantucket, steeped in American History), especially in light of the challenges they faced, most of the tasks we have at hand seem to pale in comparison. (I firmly believe this is also why America needs to continue to be clear on what we stand for!)
What do you stand for? Make sure your patients and your staff know your personal philosophy on these vital cornerstones or you are liable to ‘fall for anything’!
If you are not crystal clear on your personal philosophy, or even if it needs some updating or fine tuning, get out a blank legal pad, sit in a quit place, close your eyes for a while and list what comes to mind. Just make sure you do it before you go to sleep tonight!
All successful people can clearly define their stand. You must count yourself in these ranks.
Dr. John Hayes Jr, is president of Perfect Practice Web, and has 26 years experience in multidisciplinary and chiropractic practice management. He may be reached through email @ email@example.com. He welcomes consulting, publishing and speaking inquiries at 781-659-7989.
This is something I get to observe each and every day as a consultant, and indeed as a treating doc. What separates the hugely successful from the rest in most areas of life? You probably have read similar stuff dozens of times. But if you are not “confidently advancing in the direction of your dreams”, right now, take some time with these typical successful characteristics.
- A Clear vision of what practice and private life ideally looks like.
- The Physical capacity and energy to execute the vision through fitness, rest and nutrition. This alone is a priority. Those around you are energized as well, or they just can’t keep up, and may pull you down.
- Growing financial savings from managed expenses and wise investing.
- The basic tasks are systematized, on autopilot; you simply inspect what you expect. Don’t get me wrong, you must initially create and start these. This includes marketing, accounts receivables and payables, your front desk, savings plans, and whatever else you can simplify.
- The systems that run your office and home are simple, straightforward and easy to adapt as the environment throws changes at you.
- You make use of good coaches and your own support groups.
- Your daily life and actions are true to your “highest self”.
- Regular inspection and adjustment of all these takes place; (we call it The Ultimate System).
Now, this is just a synopsis, but so essential, and so often missed by too many. But to really move forward in practice, and indeed life, we all need to work on these first.
Dr. John Hayes Jr, is president of Perfect Practice Web, and has 26 years experience in multidisciplinary and chiropractic practice management. He may be reached through email @ firstname.lastname@example.org He welcomes consulting, publishing and speaking inquiries at 781-659-7989.
Marketing Your Private Practice
Marketing is one of the most misunderstood and frustrating areas of practice development. Many doctors struggle with marketing and very few have an organized marketing action plan in place.
It is easy to see why marketing can be difficult. It is rare to find doctors who are effectively utilizing a practice development plan, and even fewer have a calendar of planned marketing events and procedures. Without careful planning and timing, your marketing may not unfold in a rational or effective way. Non-systematic, scattered marketing attempts are ineffective and yield very few results. This lack of success may lead doctors to conclude that attempts to market their practice will always be met with the same lackluster outcome, and may cause the doctor to think that marketing is an exercise in futility, or unnecessary.
If you want your practice marketing to succeed, you must ensure that your efforts are part of a larger strategic plan. There must be planning and foresight. Your marketing approach must be organized, relevant, and plainly visible to employees and patients alike. You must make an effort to create a linked series of marketing events. Marketing efforts must not only have individual impact, they must also have impact when considered as part of the larger plan.
Plan for Success
Before you begin planning your marketing strategy, you need to sit down and decide exactly what kind of practice you would like to have. Will you focus on occupational care? Chiropractic care during pregnancy? Sports Injury? Will you have a blended focus? Envision your ideal practice as you would like it to exist in five years.
Think about the types of patients you would like to treat. Who are you most comfortable treating? Unless you can clearly define and target your market, you will have considerable difficulty developing and communicating a message that prospective patients both understand and respond to. If you don’t know who your target audience is, how will they?
Before you begin actively working to reach your target market, take a look at your practice. Are your practice systems developed to the point that your entire team can process new patients in an organized, efficient manner? It is pointless to spend time, money and energy looking for your new patients, unless you will be able to process and care for them once they come to you for care.
Once you are absolutely sure that your practice will be able to effectively care for new clientele, you are ready to work on the next phase of your marketing plan development – figuring out how to reach your desired target market. Think again about the type of patient you would like to work with. Once you have the patient in mind, think about what types of marketing would be likely to reach and attract this kind of patient.
Perhaps you would like to have a significant sports injury component to your practice. Where might you find these patients? You might consider things such as speaking before the local PTO, putting on an injury prevention seminar for local coaches, sponsoring local teams, and purchasing advertising in the school newsletter and yearbook. Initially, you may simply need to show up and introduce yourself at local athletic events with business cards so people actually know who you are, where you are, and what you do.
Taking the time to thoughtfully consider each of these areas will help you to develop a marketing plan that is much more likely to deliver the results you desire.
Make the Time
Even the best marketing plan will not be effective if you don’t set aside dedicated time for implementation. Set aside a minimum of one hour per week where nothing else but calendar development and marketing implementation takes place. This time must be protected – it is non-cancelable and needs to be viewed as essential to practice development. Make sure that staff knows not to disturb you – no phone calls or interruptions should take place during this time.
Begin planning your marketing efforts. Brainstorm about marketing initiatives that make sense for your practice and target audience. Take a paper desk-size calendar and schedule the exact days and times when each step should be executed. Calendar only the items that you are sure you will be able to do completely and effectively, not halfway.
Plan your marketing so that it occurs more or less simultaneously, and not necessarily in a sequential manner. The reason for doing this related to the principle of massive action, which is often neglected in private practice marketing. This principle says that massive action equals massive results. In marketing, too many doctors try a haphazard step here or there. When they fail to produce the desired results, they become frustrated and actually abandon their marketing program. A much better way to approach marketing is to be sure that linked steps are performed simultaneously. You will be much happier with the end result approaching your marketing in this manner.
Creating a Loyal Following
An essential component of private practice marketing involves maintaining close contact with those who have utilized your services in the past, along with members of the community you may have met at civic events and social functions. Maintaining steady contact helps to ensure that all of these potential clients and referral sources translate into more patients for your thriving practice. Never forget that patients (and their families) who previously utilized your services are much more likely to not only refer their family and friends, but to actually see you again as well. Make them feel valued by staying in touch. Seek to build long-term relationships with every patient and potential patient you come into contact with.
Create a database where you can track each of these important people. In this day and age list maintenance is simple and can easily be handled by a trusted employee. There are hundreds of different database tools you can use to track your clientele, and there options available in every price range. You might also choose to work with a mailing house that can create and distribute newsletters and bulletins on your behalf. For example, you may decide that every month your list of coaches will receive a newsletter focused on preventing sports injury, including tips and ideas for making their lives easier. Your marketing database can be used not only to cost-effectively send out newsletters and promotions, but to inform your clients about practice changes such as hours, new partners, and more.
Each time you treat a new patient, find out how they arrived in your office. How did they find you? Where did they first hear of you? Who referred them? Enter this information into your database, so that you have a written record of new patient sources. This tracking is essential so that you know in the short term and in the long-term exactly where patients come from and which marketing efforts are producing the best results. Periodically analyze the results and adjust your marketing plans as needed.
You should only consider spending money on external marketing (such as extensive newspaper advertising) if you are sure that you have implemented procedures that will ensure you can stay in touch with existing patients and referral sources, and effectively track which of your marketing efforts is bringing in results.
The implementation of an organized marketing program is essential to the success of any private practice. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but once you have established it, it becomes much easier in succeeding years to maintain a thriving practice. You will have a strong foundation of loyal, repeat clients upon which to build. Paying attention to these simple principles will ultimately result in the development of the practice of your dreams.
Dr. John Hayes Jr, is president of Perfect Practice Web, and has 26 years experience in multidisciplinary and chiropractic practice management. He may be reached through email @ email@example.com .
He welcomes consulting, publishing and speaking inquiries at 781-659-7989.
Who are you? And who should you be? Your patients increasingly want to know. I recently had a very interesting new patient; very apprehensive, but enthusiastic, young, highly educated and a prior patient of chiropractic care.
When I asked her what she thought about our office, a story unfolded.
First, she got our name from a local listing online and then she “Googled” me. Consumers are increasingly using Google (or another search engine) to find out more about many of their professional contacts. This is especially true with the more upscale clientele. After Googling me, she went to my Web site, and finally visited my chiropractic college Web site.
At our initial meeting, we chatted about her job – she is a drug researcher, of all things. (That really fascinated me because she did not want to take any medications.) We also spoke about her recent 10-day trip on a beach in South America, and then we just chatted for two to three minutes about her past doctor experiences.
That, of course, is why she was checking us out before deciding if we were a “fit.” We finally were laughing together and she completely relaxed; her entire physiology changed. I commended her for going through her investigation and promised I would do all I could to help her, starting that day!
This scenario (potential patients investigating their professional prospects online) is being played out more and more, but many docs are oblivious to it. We all need to realize that things have changed and patients have got ten much savvier. There are several lessons here:
- Make sure you have a Web site, and ensure it is up to date. If the patient mentioned above looked for your Web site and found you had none, you would be out of luck at that point. These ever-increasing savvy prospects want to check out your Web site. So, not only should you have a site, but it also better be modern and totally professional in appearance. It is relatively inexpensive to acquire a good-looking site these days. There is no excuse for not having one.
- Put your complete bio and list of accomplishments online. Don’t make your potential patients hunt for your credentials. Make it easy for them.
- Google yourself! See what comes up, and correct any inaccuracies at the source. If you have an up-to-date Web site, that should be the first (or at least one of the first) site that pops up when you are Googled. If your site puts your best foot forward, the good impressions will start immediately, which is invaluable.
- Make sure your systems are modern, too, starting with your front-desk and intake procedures. There is nothing worse than a potential patient coming away with the impression that your “office is really old-school, very old-fashioned.” Unless you are winding down your practice, you do not want to give the impression of a stodgy practice, with old tables coming apart at the seams. Practices giving this appearance will find it more and more difficult to thrive.
- Make the best use of technology in your office. That is what many patients now expect, especially in areas with big cities or medical centers. Do you need to spend $100,000 on a space-age-looking decompression table? No. But you do need to give the appearance of a high-technology outfit. It does make a difference.
- Be human, not a stuffed shirt, in the first patient meeting. It might not be fair, but everything that happens on the very first encounter – indeed, within the first four minutes – will determine whether the patient accepts your message. If your receptionist doesn’t greet the potential patient with a smile and friendly demeanor, that sets things off in a 180-degree-opposite direction than the initial process should. Do not forget that your staff can make or break you.
Patients are looking for well-rounded human beings. The key to a fun practice: Creative energy equals a good time for all! It never visits you while fully engaged in the routines of practice. I find it only visits after complete relaxation, and then either by divine inspiration or introspection. For me, it comes while on the water, motorcycling or carving down a mountain on skis. What is it for you? Whatever does it for you, make sure to engage in it regularly!
The lesson here: My best advice is always being 100 percent transparent with your patients. Your true intentions will be felt by everyone around you. Find your purpose and latch on to it. Patients do not want stuffed shirts for their doctors anymore! And you will spend much more time enjoying not only a rich personal life, but also your practice. Be who you are. Your staff and patients will appreciate and pick up on your true intentions and message.