Posts

“Susan’s pain was so bad that she had trouble telling hot from cold, and even experienced trouble walking.”

A lot of your patients have heard that there is no cure for neuropathy, and they get discouraged.  As someone in the medical profession, you want to be able to dispel this misconception that your patients will just have to live with their symptoms!  NeuropathyDR® can teach you the non-pharmaceutical means to lessen their pain and improve their life.   “No cure” isn’t the same thing as “no help!”

A great example of a patient we have been able to help with the NeuropathyDR® methodology is Susan.  Susan is a diabetic in middle age who has suffered for more than twenty years with neuropathy symptoms.  Most prominently, Susan has tingling and severe pain in her feet, with the same problem less severely in her hands and arms.  Susan’s pain was so bad that she had trouble telling hot from cold, and even experienced trouble walking.

When she came to us, Susan was taking prescription-strength Advil several times a week for the pain in her hands and feet.  Medication has its place, and can be effective in some cases, but it is too often the first—and last—course of action medical professionals resort to when it comes to neuropathic pain.   NeuropathyDR® promotes newer, non-pharmaceutical methods that have been proven to reduce pain and numbness in cases like Susan’s.  After we applied the NeuropathyDR® protocols, Susan’s symptoms subsided drastically and her quality of life began to improve.

Especially in the short term, we want to help reduce the overall level of chronic pain and restore any mobility that might be lost.  In a case like Susan’s, the NeuropathyDR® protocols target three specific areas of treatment:

  • Specifically-directed manual therapies to correct aberrant motion or misalignment in areas of the spine and pelvis, as well as addressing the soft tissue contractures in the neck, legs, feet, arms, and hands.
  • Our NeuropathyDR® nutrition protocol, consisting of a daily regimen of combined nutrients that have been proven to be supportive of the nervous system in slowing the progression of neuropathy and healing damage.
  • Finally, the application of neuro-stimulation in the affected areas.  We use a waveform treatment in the office and at home that opens up nerve pathways to let them heal.

Susan’s treatments recurred three times a week for five weeks, for a total of fifteen treatments.  Following each treatment, Susan reported that the level of pain and tingling had subsided by two-thirds or more.

Powerful Manual Therapies are Key…

After applying the NeuropathyDR® protocol, Susan noticed a terrific improvement in her lifestyle.  In her own words, her energy level tripled, and the inflammation and pain in her feet had reduced by ninety percent.  Our objective tests, going by a round before and after the treatments, showed that Susan’s spasms in the lumbar and thoracic paravertebral muscles had improved by seventy percent.  Her range of motion without pain had also increased by seventy percent, and her ability to sense heat, cold, and vibration had drastically improved.  Perhaps the biggest lifestyle-boost of all, Susan experienced much less pain when walking after applying the NeuropathyDR® methods for five weeks.

We followed up with Susan three months after her treatments with us, and she was continuing to do extremely well.  She has been diligent about keeping up her assigned home-care treatments, and she visits her clinician as-needed for checkups.  Especially in-light of her twenty-year struggle with neuropathy, the degree of Susan’s success is remarkable.

If you treat patients like Susan who suffer from neuropathy symptoms, we are a valuable resource to help you treat them.  Contact us with specific questions and to learn the NeuropathyDR® methodologies we have developed.  Our protocols are proven to work—don’t let your patients go without proper care!

Blueberries, vegetables and exercise, or cigars, sex and coffee…

The Secret of self-actualized life- is it blueberries, vegetables and exercise, or cigars, sex and coffee…

This past weekend, I finally got to wind down after our months long SuperConference build-up. It was a great event; most docs were ecstatic with the content and opportunities, despite the very harsh realities of private practice today. It was great to be with all my special friends who helped make this event so powerful.

In any event, another very special friend Dennis invited me on the water all day Friday and Patti and I to his Yacht Club Friday night. (Turns out, we’ll be joining!)

Friday morning, the fishing was great again, just off the Boston Harbor hotels, and airport runways. It’s a fabulous place, with tons of revolutionary war (and before) history, forts, burial grounds, etc.

Friday night, the four of us cruised the inner harbor, back on land for a couple drinks then had a fabulous dinner back at the club and tons of laughs together.

Then, Dennis asked me if I wanted to smoke a cigar with him. I must have had one hell of an expression, because he immediately began to tell me about studies on cigar smoking and longevity???

Huh? I read research every morning, but I missed that one!

So Dennis says “Its stress that kills us. Those that socialize, and have fun, maybe smoke a cigar and sip Scotch together, laugh and stay engaged, live longer, happier and healthier lives”.

So don’t you know it, look up the studies on centenarians in Cuba, and other countries too?

My take after reading these studies? They live simply, stay engaged in life fully for the moment only, and have moderate habits, nothing to excess. Interestingly, in Cuba, they smoke cigars, drink coffee, and still enjoy sex.

But most of all, they ENJOY all of life. Especially simple pleasures, friends and family. Most every day.

And thats it.

Boy, can we screw this one up, big time.

Look at the craziness some of us see everyday, people stressed out, never disengaged, or never shut off the cell phones and TV, bitch about everything, live sedentary, not outside enough.

Or some Docs that continually stress, never disengage long enough to really figure out who’s in charge of their life and practice, who they care or work for. No good systems or organization that really serves them, and their goals and dreams.

What a mess we are capable of creating!

But, there is an antidote. And it’s the very first step I often end up taking with new clients.

That is, to develop and work on and truly develop the essence of Practice by Design ™.

But if it’s really this simple, why do so many of us as very intelligent docs especially every practice day struggle with it?

I’m not really sure, but I can tell you a few things.

First, YOU have got to have complete design control in practice. This is really the most valuable part for me personally while working with my docs.

Next, staff needs firm, but still fun environments and goals. Very easy systems that still work (by design) when we all have those “no brain” days. And the government has made this one harder.

Three, patients need guidance, and the choice to accept or reject advice. When you can see them, what your game rules are. This must of course include finances. And, if they choose to reject your advice, why would you ever keep them under your care?

And you know what, it can be as simple as these three basic
rules!

But you must have the certainty, intestinal fortitude and underlying tools to pull this all off.

To that end, as Mr. Spock admonished me 40+ years ago, “live long, and prosper.”

‘I like his stuff but I hardly know this guy…’

‘I like his stuff but I hardly know this guy…’

Jes is hearing this more and more from docs around the country, who is this guy on Nantucket, Marthas Vineyard, Washington one week, then tooling around on the Bimmer?

This guy is me, a 54 year old with a 12 year olds passion for motors and baseball.

I’m the guy who pioneered the no bull way to run private practices.

Look, here’s the real deal I have never shared publicly.

5 years ago, I became instantly disabled, had to close my second office I had recently opened.

For 9 months, every movement was constant pain. During this time, I showed up in the office as the coach, every day except for the hospital admission. Spent half the days or more, between MRIs, EPs, neurosurgical and neurology consults on my back, in my office. More on that another time.

My associate doc who I pulled from the second office worked with my coaching using my systems, seeing most patients.

My practice did not drop. Not a beat! In fact, my disability insurance company ultimately gave me a real hard time because my practice income stayed up!

Why you ask? Because the real power in practice, and yes indeed life, real freedom, is in the impeccable sytems.

Now, you too can learn all of this, practice it, end up free and financially independent like our successful member docs.

Or miserable and unfulfilled in one of the greatest healing arts. It pains greatly when docs call me with those stories.

If you are ready, the teacher has appeared.

Pick my brain or just introduce yourself on Special Call in Day (781-659-7989) this Wednesday 8/5 1-2 PM EST.

I’ll take my helmet off long enough to answer your questions, first come. 5 mins max.

~

Watch More from the seat of my R1150RS to learn about the NO BULL way to run your life and practice…

Then Go To

http://perfectpracticeweb.com/annual-superconference-and-live-events.html

Have a Great Day!

John

It’s now or never: Fixing Healthcare with Common Sense

Fixing HealthCare with Common Sense

What it will finally take is anyone’s guess. Our candidates for public office are great at talking a good game, and oh what a show Wednesday on ABC promises to be, but what ultimately it will take is a combination of “Common Sense” (written in 1776 from Founding Father Thomas Paine*) 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 Paine 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.)

The Consequences of inaction…

…can be devastating.

It’s a fact. Failure to act, and act swiftly and decisively causes more lost opportunity than perhaps any other single human behavior.

Likewise, making the little decisions more quickly, and the bigger ones with more clarity will move you ever closer to your goals.

This, is the biggest take away from our conferences this week with our Gold and Plus members. Those who make it big, live their entire lives on this basic principle.

“Networking: Where Do I Put My Marketing Energy?”

“Networking:
Where Do I Put My Marketing Energy?”

Let’s talk about some of the more common areas that doctors usually get involved in regarding networking and their practice.

The whole purpose of networking is to build a community of people that share interests and similar activities. You can also explore the activities, business fields, and areas of expertise of those who are involved in almost any group. This has tremendous benefits to establishing yourself in the community.

The downside certainly can be the time factor. Early on in practice, you may have a lot of time to devote to this. Realistically, as time goes on, you’ll have to make some careful decisions as to how involved you want to be.

Let’s begin with the chamber of commerce. Initially, these groups are a very good move. It gives you the opportunity to meet and greet people in your community and have some professional presence at meetings. It allows you to help them with certain posts at chamber events, which can help you get noticed. You can also participate in their live community sponsored events.

All of these things are particularly beneficial as long as you remember the three basics of networking:

1.Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the occasion.

2.Make sure you have plenty of business cards.

3.Have some professionally done brochures or newsletters handy as something you can distribute, exchange and follow up with.

The downfall of all these activities is the time trap. In private practice, it may be something that’s extraordinarily beneficial. As time goes on, you really need to, in most cases, limit yourself to attending the regular meetings.

The other thing about getting involved with chambers of commerce is to be very careful about taking officer positions because they do consume a tremendous amount of time. You’ll find yourself reaching diminishing returns quickly with your time.

Conversely, the best results from this type of professional interaction come from building alliances.

Of all the types of networking behaviors we can engage in as professionals, this should be number one on your list. This is an area that can be very fruitful for just about everybody who participates in it.

Another essential area of networking we have the opportunity to be involved in is membership in professional societies.

You can say what you want about professional societies, no matter where you practice, but generally we’re better off to belong, and participate in our professional societies than to not.

Especially in these times we live in today our future, as politicians will really put healthcare professionals on the line.

You think insurance companies screwed with your practice? Just wait to you see what’s next.

Generally those who participate in professional societies seem to be much more on top of what’s happening legally and legislatively, and events that are happening in the federal and state governments plus the industry in general.

All this can have a major impact on your practice. It’s up to you, but it is something we recommend.

Perhaps the best thing about professional societies is the group access they allow you to obtain. For example, you can access their group leverage for member benefits and services, whether it’s to buy products or information services. You often have access to some type of discounted buying options or programs for office supplies, travel, etc.

Another enormous advantage of belonging to a professional society is you have excellent continuing education access. You have access to insurance programs, especially for disability insurance. This is one area you certainly want to look at.

In most parts of the country, professional societies have a regulatory interface. They may very well come to your rescue at a time of need. This has been my experience in the past, and it’s something you should be very cognizant of.

But most importantly, our societies can serve as an organized voice. Sure we have disagreements. But coming together on common ground will unite us as best we can. Never in the history of our world has the need for this been greater.

Lastly, really bring something to the table, no matter where you are.
More often than not its encouragement and ideas, with the monetary concerns a tertiary issue.

Interface through common connections and at community events. Be ready to help when they need it.

You never know in this world when you’ll need their assistance. In my experience, it will be sooner rather than later.

Really Looked at your marketing campaigns lately?

Missing real leadership in tougher times is driving responses to an entirely new set of on-line ads, that 1 year ago were almost irrelevant. It will tell you what people really want, and need right now.
The same is true off-line.
Really.
I recently took a hard look at what on-line ads are pulling the hardest.
Boy, has that changed!

How many businesses and practices are oblivious to this?

It also explains why private practices, lead by true integrity continue to support the community and are themselves very healthy.

Fixing HealthCare with Common Sense

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.

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 without 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.)

Talking Trash About Success

Talking Trash About Success

It’s a fact; politically self-serving agendas have been a part of history for centuries. Even back in Ancient Rome and Greece, elders warned about the expansion of self-perpetuating plutocracies.

Right now though, in the midst of an economic meltdown, the constant injection into the media is fear from politicians who we entrust to be leaders.

Rather than reassurance this trash talk about the wealthy is destructive, and controlling. Too often, the very criticisms our politicians hurl at others, mirror habits that exist in their own lives, a fact too many of their constituents and certainly the paparazzi ignore.

It’s the deeper message though, most recently not so hidden, that in my opinion is the most dangerous to private healthcare, especially for our student doctors.

That message is that being wealthy and ultra successful is somehow bad. That because you did well through your own efforts, your results must now be penalized.

Never has such a more dangerous notion been put forth with unquestioning by the mainstream media.

Its NOT wealthy successful people that brought the economy to it’s knees, It’s now many years of bad decisions and top down government and corporate corruption that transcends political parties and international boundaries, fueled by incredible greed. Unfortunately, these basic facts are too often conspicuously absent from the daily media banter.

It’s the wealthy and most successful (not the greedy and corrupt) that pay the bulk of taxes already. It’s the wealthy that are the philanthropists and benefactors in a free society.

For those younger than I, this attitude is nothing new. The problem is, in our current world, this trash talk about success is today again everywhere. This only serves to perpetuate dangerous myths, especially to our young and inexperience citizens.

In fact, the greatest minds in history have warned about the dangers of unbridled political banter.

So what can you do?

First of all, have the guts to acknowledge media BS as just that.

Don’t focus and dwell on what’s wrong with the world.

Instead, focus on improving it, one patient visit at a time.

Yes, a lot has changed in practice! It’s changed in your patient’s lives too. And some have been enormous.

So, what have you done lately to help deal with their changes and how they utilize your care, or not?

And what about their own fears and concerns? Are you like a deer in the headlights, or a pillar of community strength?

When is the last time you and your team took actions that can make their days brighter, and their futures even healthier? The possibilities for practice expansion with this one are huge!

But, most importantly, make sure your daily actions and decisions are ultimately putting you in charge of your life. Take full responsibility for your own results.

Work a little harder, maybe a whole lot smarter to develop your own future choices and flexibility.

Always remember, no matter how ineffective prior decisions may have been, or how bad things may have been this is a brand new day.

Completely new opportunities abound.

But only if you decide to be fully engaged.

Tough economy or not, there is no better time to make your mark than right now.

I would also assert that is this the very best time to refocus, and reorganize. Learn new systems. Invest in your business skills development. Reorganize. Rebuild if you must!

Be sure you are limiting your media exposure. Focus on your new business and personal goals. Plan now to be reaping the rewards, without guilt.

Almost 100 years ago, Wallace Wattles warned those aspiring to make better lives for themselves to ignore the politicians.

To focus only upon your desired outcomes with continuous gratitude being your dominant thought.

Doing everything with the utmost care and attitude of devout service.

He called his big idea the “Certain Way”.

I believe he was right.

The Most Important Advantage of All

Life is Difficult.

This is the opening line of a landmark book by M. Scott, Peck, MD, The Road Less Traveled.

Dr. Peck had a wonderful insight into the human experience and especially our related behaviors. And for millions of people, his passing is still mourned. If you have not read his works recently, I suggest you do.

As many doctors do, he drew many life lessons from his experiences with patients. But way beyond that, he had an uncommon knack of distilling the key reasons why some people remain extraordinarily happy, especially in times of adversity.

You probably also know that one of the biggest reasons some doctors develop huge, successful practices, especially today Is their ability to regularly step back and look at the “big picture”, and then act, quickly. And if an action is somehow taken in error, or turns out not to be effective, they see to it that rapid corrections always take place.

In fact, one of the key skills to being a good doctor is that of making many rapid decisions and choices, often times for other people.

In our experience, the happiest docs set their entire personal and professional lives up so they are seemingly perfectly executed.
The reality is that their prosperity and fulfillment is due largely to their design. Living and practicing by design gives you huge advantages.

Just like professional athletes, superstar docs make it look easy.
The “Superstars” develop many skills sets and qualities. They are perpetual students. Marketing, clinical expertise, or technology upgrades. These doctors continuously learn, and develop new qualities.

But, what is the most important of all of these advantages?

Flexibility. Because the vantage point of flexibility gives you many more choices and options as time goes on.
Lets take a look at why this is so.

Lets take finances first. If you make a regular habit of saving money, and reducing debt, early in your career especially, this decision then gives you great financial flexibility later on. The ability to ride out an economic storm. The ability to take vacations and adequate time off, etc. A buffer against downturns due to regulatory changes and natural disasters.

Technological prowess also gives modern docs enormous flexibility. The tools and systems that are available today can help you not only with patient care, but research, marketing, and yes even a complete education in practice clinical skills, and management, growth and promotion.

The next big advantage is structural flexibility. An operating business framework of your choice that can accelerate you beyond any other practice in the area.

An entire team that is so well trained, that it can expand or contract at will. Patients remark on how you never seem to miss a beat. You hire no more staff than absolutely necessary, and add to the team as practice grows. Vacations or time away by a team member create new opportunities, not added stress on the practice.

Patient Care in these offices is thus based upon options, and letting patients know about all their choices. In healthcare, like many areas of modern life there are tiers of service. This is not a utopian world as some would have us believe about healthcare today. Given a chance, most people choose what’s best for them at any given moment in time.

It is in the honest presentation of these that the doctor serves his community the best.

The third and perhaps the most important is simply ownership and it’s inherent flexibility, that of being in charge. You call all your own shots. Hours, income, time-off, strategies for marketing, patients to accept or decline, yes just about everything.

For some docs, ownership can be overwhelming. Then the choice then becomes learn new skill sets or work for somebody else.

Now the good news, these are learned skills. When they’re applied to all areas of your practice and life, the result is a much more fulfilling experience.

And if not learned regularly updated and applied, practice can be a nightmare.

It’s all up to you.

A Necessary Evil: Lessons From Technology Meltdowns

By now many of you are familiar with the catastrophic server failure in our clinic.

I have a clinic with 10 computer clients, all of which work to the max all day long. A business class server runs this entire client system. We also have a terminal services remote dial in, and a sonic wall hard firewall. Pretty much bullet proof (for three years and one week). One week out of warrantee, the server fails.

I have long prided myself on the extensive (early and frequently upgraded) usage of technology in practice. Indeed, it has been a hallmark of success and has allowed maintaining a large practice in these rapidly changing times and escalating data management requirements.

As we are getting back to normal, some very poignant lessons are emerging.

First, we are in really good shape. No patient or clinic data was lost due to redundant back-ups and mirrored hard drives. We did however lose some custom templates and settings. They are probably in a file that was corrupted.

Nonetheless, it has been 40 plus hours of labor, at a MINIMUM 100$/hr, plus additional time with software support at 5$/minute getting things integrated and operational again. So already, we are pushing seven grand in costs, not to mention the time and extra staffing needed to reenter an entire week worth of data from the paper records we managed.

The good news is that I might actually get some reimbursement from my business overhead insurance policy (provision on equipment and media failure). That could take some of the financial bite away.

But, like with so many things life, unexpected side benefits emerged.

 First of all, as a stressful as it was to be stripped of the usual tools my staff rose to the challenge very quickly, and were immediately able to fall back on their redundant but very simple paper systems.

Secondly, both the front part of the office and the back as well realized, how much more enjoyable patient encounters were.  And I believe this is because both areas of the practice we were able to donate 99 percent of the encounter time to simply greeting and interacting with the patients. In the usual day, we probably spend a minimum of twenty percent of encounter time on record keeping.

And don’t you know (of course) without this hassle, our office volume jumped as well.

 Like so many areas of life in this day and age, technology isolates and has stripped us of valuable, humanistic interactive time.  Indeed, is this not where the real joy in practice still comes from?  I dispute anybody who loves the healing arts to say otherwise.

 In any event, once we were back up and running, we realized fully what was happening. So I next redesigned our routine patient encounters, most especially I further simplified routine record keeping, through the redesign of and extensive use of customized but editable templates.

 Last week, when I shared the new designs with my staff, we were both amazed at how (long ago) obvious this all should have been.

 But another extraordinary side benefit of this entire experience was that many patients commented on how our office procedures did not seem to miss a beat. Other than the fact we could not provide precise account balances, the office remained fully functional, productive, and in attendance to the immediate needs of patient care. 

In fact, we were actually able to train a new front desk person in the midst of our technology meltdown. And yes, she did stay on really enjoying our patients, as well as her new teams flexibility.

So, what’s the take away here? Honestly, I recommended if you haven’t spent time recently in practice reviewing what gives you the most joy and satisfaction in the office, that you refocus your attention in that direction.

I’ll also caution you to employ technology as a tool, but never become a slave to it.

As I advocated extensively in my Practice by Design writings and conference, realize that we all have the need, no the obligation to be unplugged from technology, engaging quiet time whenever possible. This means, no computers, no cell phones, no TV, radio or blackberry’s or pagers.

In any event, I hope you will be able to learn from our experiences. In this day and age of private practice, technology is absolutely necessary but does not have to be evil. Like Sarah Connor, be ever vigilant for the rise of the machines!

Make sure you know your software inside and out. Make sure you have support teams that will be available to you when you need them. Make sure there is redundancy in all your systems.

 But lastly, do not become a slave to technology you employ. Figure out better and better ways to employ technology, the help bring you more joy, peace, and prosperity in practice, while never becoming slave to it.

Then perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to unplug from everything, on a regular basis. Get outside, do something physical, read a great book by the oceanside or in the mountains.

I Guarantee, your entire perspective on practice, and life will change immeasurably for the best!