Getting Out There: The Importance of Networking for Your Practice
There are many challenges facing private medical practices in 2015, including adapting to various new technology, complying with ever-deepening HIPPA regulations, changes in billing practices, budgeting issues, marketing demands, and patient retention. As a result, many physicians are abandoning their practices altogether for the security of hospitals, and larger healthcare networks. While this is a tolerable concession for some, many are unwilling to give up the sense of freedom and purpose they gain from private practice.
It is true that the climate is becoming more difficult for independent medical offices. It is also possible, however, for physicians to keep abreast of changes, and learn the best practices, and workarounds required to continue to flourish on their own terms. What is the best way of doing this? Good, old fashioned networking. Making contacts throughout the industry, becoming actively affiliated with organizations serving your area of expertise, and making the time for you and key members of your staff to attend annual conferences, seminars, and workshops will be vital for the success of private practices going forward.
Why is it so important?
It’s no big secret—strong connections with your peers and professional development agencies can, and likely will, improve your practice. They will help you discover, and implement new values and services being offered in throughout the industry. Attending networking events can also help develop leadership, and interpersonal skills necessary to such a public-facing profession.
Fostering outside relationships is also the locus for professional development. As a physician, and the leader of your practice, you must be a Jack of all trades on a daily basis. You are a highly skilled medical professional, but you are also a business owner responsible for the day to day management, PR, and marketing of your livelihood. Professional networking can be the key to building all of these skills.
A strong network is more than just a wellspring of advice to draw from. When we use the term network here, we also use it in the context of a referral network. If you are a primary care physician, at some point you will need to refer a patient out for specialty care. It is highly important to have solid network of specialists you trust, as a bad referral can have a seriously negative effect on your patient relations. Helping other physicians in this way is also mutually beneficial—as you send new patients their way, they will likely return the favor in the future.
Where does it happen?
Each year, there are dozens of seminars, conferences, and other events held where medical professionals can meet and share their collective experiences, as well as ideas. This is the opportunity to open a dialogue about the future of their disciplines. It is also the opportunity to learn, via day-long workshops and lectures, about how to increase profitability, staff efficiency, and many other topics.
OK, so these events can help. A lot. But where do they occur, whom are they sponsored by, and how can you sign up?
The answer is that there are many organizations out there that provide many great opportunities for independent medical professionals. The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOC) was founded in 2004, and serves all urgent care business and clinical professionals. In addition to their yearly spring and fall conferences (held this year in Chicago, and New Orleans, respectively), the UCAOC offers content-rich online courses and webinars, numerous accreditation and certificate programs, Fellowships, and other resources to members, such as subscription to the monthly Journal of Urgent Care Medicine.
The American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003, serving medical practices providing concierge, and other forms of personalized care. The AAPP provides not just physicians, but medical students, residents, insurance firms, suppliers, and practice managers with resources for tracking relevant legislation and regulations, as well as educational opportunities in the form of seminars, and webinars. Their 2015 Fall Summit will be held from September 26-27 in Washington, D.C., and registration is open to non-members.
Which leads to the next key point…
…Become a member of an organization
And that means more than just signing up, making a quick appearance at an annual conference, perusing the newsletter, and calling it a day. Fostering strong professional relationships is an active process, not a passive one. The effort is continuous, never static. While you think you may not be the type to burn bridges, remember that letting them rot through neglect yields the same result. Becoming a member is simple. Getting something meaningful out of it is up to you. Arrive early to these events, attend mixers, and leave with a collection of business of cards. Keep in close touch with contacts and organization officials after events through e-mail, message boards, and social media outlets like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Networking isn’t just a buzz word used by business people. The future success of private practices is a collaborative effort, and networking is essential for that effort to thrive.
| HCRC Staffing | Brian@hcrcstaffing.com | www.hcrcstaffing.com
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